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Women's T20 Challenge a step towards an IPL for Harmanpreet, Mandhana and Co

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At the peak of the #10YearChallenge social media fad, in January this year, emerged two images of Sydney's Drummoyne Oval on Twitter. One was of an England v West Indies ODI from the 2009 Women's ODI World Cup, with scarcely any spectators in sight; the other of the ongoing Women's Big Bash League final on Australia Day, with a sellout 5,368-strong crowd in attendance. The opening line of the tweet from renowned British broadcaster Alison Mitchell read: "What a difference a decade makes."

As the first multi-team Women's T20 Challenge gears up to run in Jaipur from May 6 to 11, be advised to be reasonable and not expect such scenes to play out at Sawai Mansingh Stadium. But somewhere between women's cricket in India experiencing its own Drummoyne Oval 2019 moment in the future and the one-off women's T20 exhibition match that had less than 200 spectators in attendance at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium last year, the three-team tournament could warrant its own viral before-and-after photo-post.

Women's T20 Challenge factoids

Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj will lead Supernovas, Trailblazers and Velocity - the new team this edition - respectively

Thirty-nine players, including 12 overseas participants and four uncapped Indians (Jasia Akhtar, Komal Zanzad, Shafali Verma and Sushri Dibyadarshini), have been divided among the three squads

In the event of a tie, a Super Over will decide the winners

Teams can use the DRS and a strategic time-out (after the tenth over)

All matches to be broadcast and live-streamed on the BCCI's host broadcasters TV and digital platforms

Free admission for all four matches

What really is the big deal about the Women's T20 Challenge, though?

For starters, this is no longer an 'exhibition' event. With nominated XIs to take the field, and a maximum of four overseas players permitted in each side, the Women's T20 Challenge will be carrying official T20 status, in line with the IPL, the Women's Big Bash League in Australia and the Kia Super League in the UK. Three of the four matches will be night fixtures - a rarity for women's cricket in India - with one starting at 3.30pm India time.

Some of the best female internationals from New Zealand, England, West Indies, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India will be in action in the space of just six days, another unusual occurrence. Unlike last year's game, for which Indian players were only paid a daily allowance, all the participants will get a match fee here.

The BCCI envisages the tournament as a prelude to a full-fledged women's IPL, "the next big step for women's cricket", as Australia captain Meg Lanning put it two months ago. Although Lanning and her Australia team-mates will be missing out on the event, years down the line - how many years, though, is anybody's guess - the Women's T20 Challenge could be acknowledged as the one that changed the narrative around women's cricket in the biggest market for the game.

The debate over whether a market does exist yet for women's cricket in India is far from settled. What one can say with some certainty, though, is that two of India's current players are bonafide stars in overseas leagues.

The highlights of Harmanpreet Kaur - already a "hot property" in the WBBL following her maiden season in 2016-17 and her epic 171 not out - hitting the winning six for Lancashire Thunder on debut at the KSL last July crossed a million views on YouTube inside three days.

Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana pose for the cameras Annesha Ghosh

Smriti Mandhana's record-breaking maiden stint at the same tournament, for her franchise Western Storm, hastened her burgeoning worldwide fan base and earned her a recall at the WBBL's fourth season.

Harmanpreet and Mandhana, along with two of India's - and cricket's - all-time greats, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, and Veda Krishnamurthy and teenager Jemimah Rodrigues are now faces of many home-grown and international brands. Their social-media following runs into millions, more than some of the world's best known non-cricket female athletes.

On the performance front, India have had good showings in the recent past, at least as world tournaments go. A runners-up finish in the 2017 World Cup and a semi-final qualification in the 2018 T20 World Cup were both classic underdog sports stories - where they punched above their weight to knock down andknock out heavyweights of power-hitting in non-subcontinental conditions - that made big news.

Those two campaigns alone should have inspired the richest cricket board in the world to piggyback on the brand value of its IPL men's franchises and get its own women's league off the ground. But the groundswell of interest generated by both campaigns was squandered. Following their breakout 2017 World Cup run, India didn't even play an international fixture in the subsequent six months. Besides, during their first home season post-World Cup, Raj and Goswami expressed their reservations about the depth of domestic pool for a women's T20 league to kick off in the country.

The positives of India's first run to the knockouts of the World T20 in eight years, at the 2018 T20 World Cup in the Caribbean, meanwhile, sank in the quicksand of leaked emails and infighting between the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators that oversees the BCCI. The board, on its part, too, has been apprehensive about starting a women's IPL due to concerns over the quality of its uncapped players, a thought recently echoed by current India head coach WV Raman, in the wake of India's T20 series loss against England.

However, with Raj and Goswami, along with Harmanpreet, Mandhana, and several top-drawer overseas women's stars, unanimously calling for a women's IPL in the recent past for the betterment of the game, the Women's T20 Challenge is the BCCI's response to the clarion call. With the T20 World Cup less than ten months away, the tournament also serves an opportunity for the Indian selectors to scout promising uncapped talent and, as Mandhana mentioned at the pre-tournament press conference, help them "assess which players [uncapped or otherwise] would perform well under pressure."

Whether the Women's T20 Challenge is an overnight success or receives lukewarm response remains to be seen. What one hopes it will do, though, is make for a worthy #10YearChallenge throwback in the timeline of women's cricket or, more ideally, a heartening #FiveYearFlashback post, in 2024.


Supernovas: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Anuja Patil, Arundhati Reddy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Mansi Joshi, Poonam Yadav, Priya Punia, Radha Yadav, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Chamari Atapattu*, Lea Tahuhu*, Sophie Devine*, Natalie Sciver*
Coach: WV Raman

Trailblazers: Smriti Mandhana (c), Bharti Fulmali, D Hemalatha, Deepti Sharma, Harleen Deol, Jasia Akhtar, Jhulan Goswami, R Kalpana (wk), Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Suzie Bates*, Sophie Ecclestone*, Shakera Selman*, Stafanie Taylor*
Coach: Biju George

Velocity: Mithali Raj (c), Devika Vaidya, Ekta Bisht, Komal Zanzad, Shafali Verma, Shikha Pandey, Sushma Verma (wk), Sushri Dibyadarshini, Veda Krishnamurthy, Amelia Kerr*, Danielle Wyatt*, Hayley Matthews*, Jahanara Alam*
Coach: Mamatha Maben

*Overseas players

posted May 7, 2019 by Meenal Mishra

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Smriti Mandhana is an Indian cricketer who plays for the Indian women's cricket team. The 20-year old Mumbai-girl has already got a century in the ongoing Women’s World Cup, apart from a well-made 90 against hosts England. She has been in the circuit for four years now, since she made her debut in 2013 against Bangladesh. She has also played a couple of Tests which is a rarity in women’s cricket.

In 2013, she scored an unbeaten 224 off 150 balls in the West Zone Under-19 Tournament.

She made her ODI debut at the age of 17 and her Test Debut at the age of 18.

She is the only Indian player to feature in the ICC women’s team of the year in 2016.

Smriti Mandhana is the Youngest Indian woman to score a 50 in T20I cricket.

In 2016, Mandhana was signed up for a one-year deal with Brisbane Heat for the Women's Big Bash League.

She was selected to play for Maharashtra U-19 at the age of just 11. She also happens to be the youngest Indian to score a hundred in senior level cricket. She scored that hundred in Australia at the age of 16, she scored 102 off 109 balls in a losing cause.


Though the first women’s cricket match was played in 1934, it took about 40 years for women’s cricket to start in India.

The first match recorded of the Indian Women’s Team was the Test Match series against West Indies in 1976.

Neetu David set a world record in 1995 with 8/53, the best bowling performance in an innings against England at Jamshedpur.

Jhulan Goswami has the most ODI wickets in Women’s Cricket. She has 185 ODI wickets.

India have never lost an ODI against Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ireland, Netherlands or Denmark.

Poonam Raut and Deepti Sharma have the highest ODI partnership in women’s cricket. They scored 320 runs vs Ireland as a pair.

The team got its first Test Match victory against South Africa in 2002 on foreign land.

Mithali Raj, scored a record-breaking 214 runs in a Test match against England in 2002.

The Indian team reached the finals of World Cup in 2005 and 2017, but eventually lost to Australia and England respectively.

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Harmanpreet Kaur produced one of the greatest ever ODI knocks in women’s cricket for India. Her scintillating knock of 171 runs off 115 balls against the Aussies in the semis scripted Indian Team’s road to the finals. She came into bat when the team had a major setback and they lost two quick wickets. Later, with Harmanpreet’s monstrous batting, Indian women successfully put a total of 281 on the scoreboard in 42 overs. In return, the Aussies failed to chase down the target and lost the game by 36 runs. Harmanpreet undoubtedly turned out to be the ‘Wonder Woman’ in the match. She was also the one who led India to victory in the World Cup 2017 qualifier series earlier.

Let's take a look at 10 Interesting and unknown facts about India's 'Powerpuff Girl' Harmanpreet Kaur:

1. Harmanpreet Kaur was born on March 8, 1989, her father Harmandar Bhullar was a renowned Volley ball and Basket ball player.

2. Kaur stepped into Cricket after her unexpected meeting with coach Kamaldeesh Singh Sodhi, she later joined Gian Jyoti School Academy at village Darapur, Punjab. Astonished by her batting prowess, Kamaldeesh included her in the Moga-district team to participate in the Punjab’s Inter-District tournament.

3. She got a job in Western Railways with the help of a personal letter from Member of Parliament and former Indian Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. This all happened her application got rejected first when former India women’s captain Diana Edulji who spotted the batting all-rounder suggested her to do so.

4. Harmanpreet made her ODI debut at the age of 20 in a match against Pakistan in the 2009 Women’s Cricket World Cup which took place at Bowral.

5. In June 2009, she made her Twenty20 International debut in the 2009 ICC Women's World Twenty20 against England women's at County Ground, Taunton where she scored 8 runs off 7 balls.

6. Her 171 runs in the WC17 semi finals against Australia remains her best ever in ODI and is also the second highest by any Indian women’s cricketer. Deepti Sharma’s 188 is the best so far.

7. Harmanpreet found her cricketing inspiration in the swashbuckling Indian opener Virender Sehwag. Fans can easily make out why she admires the legendary cricketer as she herself is an aggressor par excellence.

8. Back in 2012 when skipper Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami were down with injuries, Kaur was announced as the captain for India’s campaign in the 2012 Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup final match. Indian women’s team won that game by 18 runs.

9.  In November 2015, she took 9 wickets in a Test match against the South African women’s cricket team played at Gangothri Glades Cricket Ground, Mysore, helping India win the match by an innings and 34 runs.

10. Meanwhile, in June 2016, she became the first Indian cricketer to be signed by the Women’s Big Bash League. Sydney Thunder was the franchise she had signed for.