It’s finally here, the Women’s Premier League (WPL) — the BCCI’s latest blue-eyed baby, and another potential money-spinner.
Women’s game will take a leap of faith when the inaugural edition of the WPL kicks off on Saturday with a blockbuster clash between the Ambani-owned Mumbai Indians and Adani-owned Gujarat Giants at the DY Patil Stadium. For close to a month, leading up to the final on March 26, the crème da la crème of women’s cricket will descend on the shores of Mumbai, representing five franchises — MI, Gujarat Giants, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Capitals and the UP Warriorz.
“I think it is the biggest day for all of us. This is one of the biggest leagues and we will get a lot of experience and exposure from this. We will get to see a lot of young girls coming from this tournament and this is why we wanted this competition to start,” MI captain Harmanpreet Kaur said on Friday.
Defining the importance of WPL for the women’s game in India, Harmanpreet said: “We were all looking for the opportunity for the last so many years. Now that this platform is here, it is definitely going to take women’s cricket to the next level. Going forward, I think the WPL will help create a good team for Indian cricket.”
Ace opener Beth Mooney, who touched down here just three days ago to lead the Gujarat Giants after her unbeaten 74 in the final against South Africa in Cape Town shaped yet another T20 World Cup title triumph for the mighty Aussies, is fired up to give her best shot in WPL.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve only been here for 36 hours. Everyone’s very excited to get going. I’m absolutely thrilled and pumped to be here and be a part of the first game,” she said.
“We’ve been crying out for a tournament like this in women’s cricket for a long time. So, to be sitting here the night before for the first game, I couldn’t be more ready,” said Mooney, who had slammed scores of 82 not out and 89 not out in front of packed crowds at the DY Patil Stadium in the opening two games of the India-Australia T20I series in December last year.
On Saturday night, the WPL needs the kind of spectacular on-field launch that the IPL got on April 18, 2008, in the first-ever game of the cash-rich league.