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WPL Auction: RCB and MI hit the nail on the head

Last updated on 09 Dec 2023 | 09:01 PM
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WPL Auction: RCB and MI hit the nail on the head

All five teams targeted specific players looking to fill the gaps in their squad and largely succeeded.

Uff! Another Women’s Premier League (WPL) auction. Another day of cricketers being ascribed a price tag to their talent. Sadly, that’s the world we live in. However, it was also a day when many lives completely changed. Uncapped Indian players Kashvee Gautam and Vrinda Dinesh got a life-changing sum of money as they became millionaires within seconds. 

Annabel Sutherland also got two crore, continuing the flow of wealth from India to Australia through the WPL. 

Meanwhile, the brutality of an auction with small team purses (13.5 crore each) was at full display as international stars like Chamari Athapaththu and Deandra Dottin, who were on everybody’s list of predicted auction picks, went unsold. India-capped players like Devika Vaidya also couldn’t attract any buyers, a stark contrast from her fortunes last year. 

But the show must go on now that the auction is over.  It’s time for us to peek at how the five teams are shaping up for the second season of the world’s richest women’s cricket league. 


Royal Challengers Bangalore 

Players bought - Ekta Bisht (INR 60 lakh), Georgia Wareham (INR 40 lakh), Kate Cross (INR 30 lakh), S Meghna (INR 30 lakh), Simran Dil Bahadur (INR 30 lakh), Sophie Molineux (INR 30 lakh), Shubha Satheesh (INR 10 lakh)

RCB had seven spots to fill in this auction. They had released Dane Van Niekerk, so they needed a leg-spinning allrounder who could come lower down the order and tonk the ball. They managed to get Georgia Wareham, a leg-spinner and a lower-order batter, to fulfil that role. 

Then, they needed an overseas pacer after letting go of Megan Schutt. They were in a bidding war for Shabnim Ismail but failed to acquire her in the end. However, they managed to get Kate Cross, who accurately swings the new ball and has a lot of experience playing in India. 

The Bangalore franchise also needed a left-arm spinner and, ideally, a spin allrounder, as they had released Preeti Bose, Erin Burns and Sahana Pawar. They nailed that as well by getting Sophie Molineux (left-arm spin and lower order bat), Ekta Bisht (capped left-arm spinner), and Simran Dil Bahadur (a pace bowling allrounder). RCB also acquired Shubha Satheesh, a top-order leftie batter from Karnataka. 

This auction ensured that RCB not only filled the gaps but are now looking even stronger with more all-rounder strength added, which would also supplement their lower-order hitting. Even if there’s a collapse at the top, the quality of batters at six, seven and eight is promising, to say the least. 

Last year, they faltered in terms of managing the resources they had. This year, their skipper Mandhana has the experience of last year’s failure and would look not to repeat the mistakes she and her team committed last year. 

Probable first choice XI - Smriti Mandhana ©, S Meghna, Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry, Richa Ghosh (wk), Georgia Wareham, Shreyanka Patil, Kanika Ahuja/Simran Bahadur, Kate Cross, Ekta Bisht/Asha Shobana, Renuka Singh Thakur 

UP Warriorz

Players bought -  Vrinda Dinesh (INR 1.3 crore), Danni Wyatt (INR 30 lakh), Poonam Khemnar (INR 10 lakh), Saika Thakor (INR 10 lakh), Gouher Sultana (INR 10 lakh) 

UPW had let go of four players before the auction, including their ace pacer Shabnim Ismail and expensive pick Devika Vaidya, along with Shivali Shinde and Simran Shaikh (both batters). It was all set up for them to go after another overseas quickly. However, to everyone’s surprise, they went hard for batters, both Indian and overseas. They got lucky by getting Danni Wyatt at her base price and getting skipper Alyssa Healy, her new opening partner, who might struggle to make the final XI. They also got another top-order batter, the uncapped Vrinda Dinesh, adding another Indian option at the top along with Shweta Sehrawat. 

Poonam Khemnar, one of the top run-getters in the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy this year, was slotted in to do Simran Shaikh’s role down the order. They also got Saima Thakor (a medium fast bowling allrounder) and Gouher Sultana (left-arm spinner) as backups.

Also read - Who is Vrinda Dinesh - the prolific Karnataka batter bought for 1.3 crore

Overall, they did well at the auction but haven’t managed to replace Shabnim Ismail and would have to rely on their allrounders to make up for her absence. Their batting still seems dependent on the Australian trio of Healy, Tahlia McGrath and Grace Harris and would need their Indian batters to step up. Maybe that’s why they went hard after batters in the auction. 

Probable first choice XI - Alyssa Healy (c & wk), Vrinda Dinesh/Shweta Sehrawat, Tahlia McGrath, Kiran Navgire, Grace Harris, Poonam Khemnar, Deepti Sharma, Sophie Ecclestone, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Anjali Sarvani, Parshavi Chopra/S Yashasri 

Mumbai Indians 

Players bought - Shabnim Ismail (INR 1.2 crore), S. Sajana (INR 15 lakh), Amandeep Kaur (INR 10 lakh), Fatima Jaffer (INR 10 lakh), Keerthana Balakrishna (INR 10 lakh) 

If anyone had seen the Mumbai Indians play in the inaugural edition, they would laugh at you if you told them they managed to strengthen their squad even further in this auction. But let them laugh because that's the truth. 

MI had let go of Heather Graham, a pace bowling all-rounder, and have acquired Shabnim Ismail, one of the fastest bowlers in women’s cricket history. The best part is that despite Nita Ambani raising the pedal even before the auctioneer completed enunciating her name, she might have to be a backup to Issy Wong for the title-winning side. 

They had also released Sonam Yadav (left-arm spinner) and Neelam Bisht (leg-spinner) and replaced them with S. Sajana (an off-spin allrounder from Kerala), Amandeep Kaur (leg-spinner), Fatima Jaffer (left-arm spinner), and Keerthana Balakrishnan (leg-spinning allrounder). 

One look at their squad and probable first-choice XI will tell you they have ticked almost the boxes required to be a champion T20 side. WPL season two, MI, is coming hard at you! 

Probable first choice XI - Hayley Matthews, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Nat Sciver-Brunt, Harmanpreet Kaur ©, Amelia Kerr, S. Sajana, Pooja Vastrakar, Amanjot Kaur, Issy Wong/Shabnim Ismail, Saika Ishaque, Amandeep Kaur/Keerthana Balakrishnan

Gujarat Giants

Players bought - Phoebe Litchfield (INR 1 crore), Meghna Singh (INR 30 lakh), Lauren Cheatle (INR 30 lakh), Kathryn Bryce (INR 10 lakh), Mannat Kashyap (INR 10 lakh), Veda Krishnamurthy (INR 30 lakh), Tarannum Pathan (INR 10 lakh), Trisha Poojitha (INR 10 lakh), Kashvee Gautam (INR 2 crore), Priya Mishra (INR 20 lakh)

Gujarat Giants had pressed the reset button hard before the auction, leaving out 11 players from their squad. They entered the auction with the biggest purse and, as a result, were able to splurge it on acquiring a stable top-order batter (Phoebe Litchfield) and an Indian fast-bowling allrounder (Kashvee Gautam) who is also a beacon for the future. 

The Mithali Raj and Nooshin Al Khadeer-led think tank also bought many lesser-known Indian domestic cricketers like Trisha Poojitha (left-hand batter) and Priya Mishra (right-arm leg-spin), showing that they had come prepared to invest in Indian talents. 

The Giants also acquired Veda Krishnamurthy and Mannat Kashyap (left-arm spinner), strengthening their middle order and giving them more options for their spin attack. Meanwhile, they also picked up Lauren Cheatle (left-arm pacer), who lit up this season of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) and Kathryn Bryce, an allrounder from associate nation Scotland, which will allow them to play five overseas players. 

Also read - From Chandigarh to Gujarat Giants: Kashvee's fairytale begins

This auction has ensured that, at least on paper, they seemed to have covered all their bases and their probable first-choice XI will also have a lot of batting firepower and a lot of all-rounders. 

However, their bowling looks thin, as they might struggle to fit Cheatle in the eleven and would have to rely on the likes of Kashvee Gautam, Meghna Singh and Tanuja Kanwar. 

Probable first choice XI - Laura Wolvaardt, Beth Mooney (c & wk), Phoebe Litchfield, Harleen Deol, Ashleigh Gardner, Dayalan Hemalatha, Sneh Rana, Kathryn Bryce, Kashvee Gautam, Meghna Singh, Tanuja Kanwar 

Delhi Capitals 

Players bought - Annabel Sutherland (INR 2 crore), Aparna Mondal (INR 10 lakh), Ashwani Kumari (INR 10 lakh)

The Capitals had very little to do in this auction, as they had released only three players — a middle-order hitter (Jasia Akhter), a backup keeper (Aparna Mondal) and a left-arm pacer (Tara Norris). 

They not only filled these gaps but also strengthened their squad further by adding a quality fast-bowling allrounder, Annabel Sutherland. Then they got the keeper they released and went to add a rare player — an Indian pace bowling allrounder who can hit lower down the order (Ashwani Kumari). Although they could have got Uma Chetry as their backup keeper, they hardly need their keeper to bat with a strong top seven. 

Also read - Annabel Sutherland 2.0 headlines Delhi’s auction strategy

This gives Meg Lanning many options to work with, and if she manages to lead them like last season, where they reached the finals, they might even go the distance this time. 

Probable first choice XI - Shafali Verma, Meg Lanning, Alice Capsey, Jemimah Rodrigues, Marizanne Kapp, Ashwani Kumari, Jess Jonassen/Annabel Sutherland, Taniya Bhatia, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, Titas Sadhu 

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