Women’s T20 Challenge 2019: The Dream Of A Women’s IPL Is Now Closer Than Ever
The Indian Premier League (IPL) has become one of the biggest domestic cricket tournaments in the world now. So, could a similar league for women be the popularity boost that women’s cricket needs in India?
The same big sixes, the same white cricket balls, and the same shortest format. But women’s T20 cricket has so far never seen the audience men’s cricket does in any part of the world. That said, in recent times, Indian female star cricketers have turned numerous heads. The likes of Mithali Raj, Smriti Mandhana, and Harmanpreet Kaur, have, with their incredible performances on the field, managed to garner millions of fans and supporters from across the world.
With the IPL’s success reaching a worldwide audience, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is looking up to such stars to promote women’s cricket the same way. Young talent getting to rub shoulders with internationally-experienced players is one of the biggest positives that an IPL-like tournament offers. There is much to be hopeful about since the women’s Big Bash League in Australia has witnessed a great response over the years from the cricketing community and fan alike. Although initially clubbed in before and post men’s games to get the right audience, this approach has yielded incredible results.
The likes of Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana have already shown what they are capable of on such a platform. The duo is now one of the most sought-after players in the Women’s Big Bash League and the Kia Super League in England. Indian women’s cricket is at an all-time high with the team ending runners-up at the 2017 World Cup and qualifying till the semi-finals at the 2018 T20 World Cup. From experienced veterans like Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami to fresh talent like Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur, women’s cricket in India is looking at a hopeful future.
Last year, the Women’s T20 challenge was only an ‘exhibition game’ between two teams, namely, the Supernovas and Trailblazers. This year, the Women’s T20 Challenge is a tournament featuring three teams. An additional new team called Velocity has been added and a round robin style series is in place.
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Thirty-nine players, including 12 overseas players and four uncapped Indians form the three teams. Some of the best international women players from New Zealand, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka will be lighting up the tournament. Stefanie Taylor, Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates are just a few of the big names. Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj will lead Supernovas, Trailblazers and Velocity respectively.
With the 2020 T20 World Cup just ten months away, this tournament sets up the perfect stage for players to make an impression as well.