Preparation: India-A is training ahead of its opening match against India-C. | Photo Credit: PK Ajith Kumar
Winter is slowly setting in on this industrial city in central India. For Indian women’s cricket, the cream of which is built here, spring may not be far behind.
In fact, it could be just a few months away: the inaugural Women’s IPL is likely to be held next March. The professional league, whose women – not only from India – have been waiting for years, has the potential to change the game in the country.
The Senior Women’s T20 Challenger Trophy, which opens at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh Stadium on Sunday, could be the biggest market for talent scouts of franchises planning to own Women’s IPL teams. Much of the present and future of Indian women’s cricket will be in action in the next one week. The only two big names missing are Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur.
Players like Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Yastika Bhatia and S. Meghana make up for the absence of the two batting superstars, who are all attractive strokemakers. The entire Indian bowling line-up is also here, so expect some fascinating duels between the likes of Shafali and Pooja Vastrakar, and Jemimah and Deepti Sharma.
The players are divided into four teams. After playing each other once, the top two will meet again in a final on November 26.
Besides impressing talent scouts, fringe players can also try to make the Indian squad for next month’s five-match T20 series against Australia in Mumbai. There is also the Women’s T20 World Cup to be held in South Africa next February.
“It’s a great opportunity for the players, some of whom I’m seeing for the first time,” Meghana said. “All the girls are excited and looking forward to the Women’s IPL.”
On the opening day, India-A will face India-C and India-B will face India-D.