It’s been five years in the making and a full-fledged Women’s Premier League is finally upon us – full of promises and opportunities just as advertised. Fittingly the two biggest investors in this nascent commodity -the Adani Group-owned Gujarat Giants and the Ambani Owned Mumbai Indians – both teams go head to head in today at DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai.
The build-up that the tournament opener, in the inaugural season on the whole, has seen isn’t common practice in Women’s cricket. The team’s social media accounts are buzzing with content. The players are in and out of meetings that are not just with the support staff. There are shoots, media ops, and meet and greet galore. The Giants trained for the eve of the game amidst the rehearsals with loud music that reverberated across the university’s
sprawling campus late into the night – their preparation looks very good and energetic.
And once the pageantry of the star-studded opening ceremony of the League, the BCCI has queued up gets out of the way cricket and its subplots will duly take over.
WPL – like how the initial seasons of men’s IPL successfully happened – this women’s league will also depend on its star power for early traction, and even its success. With little to no reference points besides rivalries and trends of international cricket in the League, narratives will be built around those experienced heads in either camp.
Mumbai had a clear leadership candidate almost as soon as their buying began on the auction table, while Giant the captaincy curveball took many by surprise. The first Indian captain to lead the country to 50 victories in the shortest format is now in charge of the side that has been most successful in the men’s competition – a legacy Harmanpreet Kaur admittedly is hoping to continue her journey as the leader of the team.
Beth Mooney, the captain of Gujarat Giants hasn’t led in professional cricket yet but she sure knows a thing about winning big games. Add to that her three compatriots and Deandra Dottin who can all equip the inexperienced players around them with the inner workings of a championship-winning campaign. Maybe even they will guide them to the title in this maiden attempt League.
Those in the Mumbai camp may not have as much silverware in their cabinet to brag about, but they aren’t any short on experience in their field. They have good players in the team who can win the match for their team and go to the playoffs.
What to expect
Runs and plenty of support. India and Australia played out high-scoring thrillers at the venue in December in front of a record 47000 plus audience, one of which was decided on a super Over. Besides that a clear day and some Bollywood razzmatazz in a store for WPL opening night.
Gujarat Giants – Giants nucleus is going to be the strong Australian and Railways player in their squad. However, as formidable as their batting looks on paper, the local pace bowling talents lack big-match experience which could prove to be their weak point in the League. They do have two promising U-19 pacers in their squad, who could be lining up for their first taste of professional cricket after impressing the Giants coaches.
Beth Mooney (C ), Sabbineni Meghana, Harleen Deol, Ash Gardner, D Hemalatha, Kim Garth, Annabel Sutherland, Sneh Rana, Hurley Gala/ Ashwani Kumari, Mansi Joshi/ Monica Patel, Tanuja Kanwar
Mumbai Indians – A plethora of all-rounders to pick from – both capped and uncapped – is something that pleases MI captain Harmanpreet and also could give the think tank a happy headache. Luckily, MI used their time well and got in a couple of intrasquad games for the coaching staff to get a closer look at some of the uncapped players especially. While the core of the team selects itself, the hard choice to make around their fourth overseas player in the squad – the express pace bowl of Issy Wong or an extra all-rounder must be there, maybe Chloe Tryon or Heather Graham?
Yastika Bhatia (wk), Hayley Matthews, Nat Sciver – Brunt, Harmanpreet Kaur ( C ), Dhara Gujjar, Amelia Kerr, Pooja Vastrakar, Armanjot Kaur, Jintimani Kalita, Issy Wong, Sonam Yadav/ Sakia Ishaque.
When will the match start?
March 4, 7:30 PM IST
Venue; Dr DY Patil Stadium Academy, Mumbai
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