Opinion | Why Women’s Premier League is Important for Women’s Cricket in India – News18

Written By: Biswadeep Ghosh
Last Updated: March 15, 2024, 15:23 IST
New Delhi, India
MI had defeated DC by seven wickets to win the inaugural season of the T20 league. (BCCI Photo)
The 2024 Women’s Premier League has reached what is commonly known as the business end of any tournament. Mumbai Indians, the second-placed team in the round-robin league and the winner of the title in WPL 2023, will play the third-placed Royal Challengers Bangalore in the eliminator, and the winner will play against the round-robin stage leader Delhi Capitals in the final. MI had defeated DC by seven wickets to win the inaugural season of the T20 league. Will history repeat itself this year?
Twenty matches in the round-robin stage featuring five franchise teams, who played eight matches each, determined the top three qualifiers. Some of them were what an ideal T20 match should be: nail-biters which either of the two teams could have won. The sight of excited spectators enjoying the proceedings, with many supporting their favourite teams, has sent out a clear message. Cricket is a team sport that Indians love, and the WPL is contributing to the increase in interest in how women play it.
The last round-robin match between DC and the fifth-placed Gujarat Giants proved to be a dull affair. The former won by seven wickets, overtaking the modest target of 127 set by the latter with 6.5 overs to spare. What made the match completely one-sided was a Shafali Varma knock. Playing on a pitch that offered assistance to the seamers, the DC opener made batting look easy with her 37-ball 71. Not all matches have been won with such ease, leading to the expectation of watching two keenly contested thrillers before the winner of the final lifts the trophy.
A well-fought first match is the kind of start any tournament needs. The opening encounter in WPL 2024 offered that, as DC scored 171/5 to set a competitive target for MI. MI won with four wickets in hand and one ball still left, largely because of their experienced skipper Harmanpreet Kaur’s 34-ball 55. Had it not been for Kaur’s knock, the outcome could have swung in DC’s favour for sure.
The tournament has had its share of low-scoring matches. In one such match between the fourth-placed UP Warriorz and DC, the former scored 138 for 8 batting first, a less-than-par score. The target seemed easily achievable – until DC collapsed for 137. UPW all-rounder Deepti Sharma was the star performer, scoring a 48-ball 59 and picking up 4/19, including a hat-trick, in a spell that triggered a sensational collapse. One-day and T20 cricket have a history of low-scoring matches in which the team that seems destined to win does not. The UPW-DC match kept every viewer interested, showing, once again, that some low-scoring T20 encounters can produce a lot of suspense and thrills as both contesting teams try their best to finish first on an ordinary day with the bat.
UPW failed to find a place among the top three, but the team had a chance of finishing third until halfway through the penultimate match between MI and RCB. So was, statistically speaking, GG. The MI-RCB tie failed to be exciting after MI collapsed for 113. The outcome surprised nobody as RCB went past the target with seven wickets and five overs in hand. One player shone that day: the brilliant Australian all-rounder Ellyse Perry who scored a well-timed unbeaten 38-ball 40 and picked up 6/15, the best spell in the short history of WPL, with the nagging length and movement of her seaming deliveries. Perry’s performance on the day has been one of the highlights of this eventful season, and RCB fans will be hoping she will excel once again in the knockout encounter against MI.
WPL 2024 has had one-sided encounters. However what has attracted viewers to the stadiums is the possibility of thrillers, which the tournament has simultaneously offered during the round-robin stage. In a DC-RCB match, DC put up 181/5, a stiff target. RCB fell short of the target by one run after keeper-batsman Richa Ghosh, who scored a stroke-filled 29-ball 51, got run out in the last ball of the match with RCB’s score at 180. RCB fans were heartbroken after the one-run loss, simply because a win seemed inevitable until the last ball was bowled.  Such outcomes are inevitable because this is what cricket at its most unpredictable is all about.
In another high-scoring match between GG and MI, the former made 190/7. MI surpassed the target with seven wickets in hand and one ball still left, thanks to a spectacular 48-ball unbeaten 95 by skipper Kaur. Kaur’s knock is a fine example of controlled aggression, and it is hardly surprising that commentators during the ongoing competition have been referring to it as an instance of exceptional batting in the fast-paced T20 format.
MI won one of the two ties, both low-scoring ones, against RCB in the round-robin stage. MI won the first match by seven wickets in 15.1 overs, while RCB won the second also by seven wickets in 15 overs. As fans of the Kaur-led MI get ready to face RCB captained by Smriti Mandhana, the talented southpaw who has played a couple of fine knocks this season, everybody will be hoping to see a great match between the two squads. That might happen, too, because both sides have players who are perfectly capable of delivering on the big day.
The writer, a journalist for three decades, writes on literature and pop culture. Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect News18’s views.


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