The tremendous early potential of WPL

The tremendous early potential of WPL

The inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL), which the Mumbai Indians won by defeating the Delhi Capitals on Sunday, will be judged on three long-term questions: Did it indicate that the format is commercially attractive? Will it lead to upskilling and improving the quality of the Indian woman’s cricket team? And will it help identify talent from small towns that may otherwise go unnoticed? Fifteen years after the Indian Premium League was launched, these are the three crucial questions for which the answer has been in the affirmative. It’s commercially India’s biggest sporting event; it has taken the team to a different level on some skills, particularly fielding and death-over bowling; and it has unearthed a pool of talent that has now made small-town India the mainstay of the national team.

Mumbai Indians defeated Delhi Capitals by seven wickets to clinch the WPL 2023 title at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.(Reuters)

Most watchers, being introduced to regular women’s cricket for the first time, were unsure if WPL will be able to produce the electrifying hits and thrilling matches that IPL does year after year. They were in for a happy surprise. In all, WPL generated 801 fours and 159 sixes across 22 matches — an average of 36.4 fours and 7.22 sixes per game. The 2022 IPL saw 27.2 fours and 14.35 sixes per match. In WPL, the slog was often replaced by technique because the women players relied less on strength and more on timing to clear the ropes with what purists like to call “proper” cricketing shots. In terms of talent pool, though established stars Meg Lanning (Delhi Capitals) and Hayley Matthews (Mumbai Indians) shone with their batting skills, Saika Ishaque’s 15 wickets showed that the tournament could unearth new players with bright futures. And while the recent Women’s World T20 showed that Indian cricket is lagging on some crucial fronts — fitness, fielding, and dealing with crunch situations — WPL proved that it can be a bridge between domestic and international cricket for an entire generation of young players.

So, in a nutshell, WPL has shown tremendous early potential. At long last, women’s cricket is getting its moment in the sun (and under the floodlights).

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