Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur excited ahead of historic women‘s IPL exhibition…

In a bid to promote and nurture women’s cricket, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will be hosting a one-off Twenty20 exhibition match on Tuesday afternoon at the Wankhede Stadium involving some of the best women’s players from around the world. ()

The Women’s T20 Challenge is being played mainly to test the waters for a prospective T20 league in India involving women’s stars in the future. Naturally, the importance of it is not lost on all the players involved.

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Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana will lead the two sides which will feature several internationals from India, Australia, New Zealand and England.

“It is very exciting for all of us to be playing this match. It is a stepping stone to the IPL. And hopefully, we will put up a good show and the audience and the BCCI people will think of having a (women’s) IPL,” Smriti said on the sidelines of her team’s practice session at the Cricket Club of India on Monday.

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“Whenever I went to play the Women’s Big Bash League, all of them used to ask when is the IPL starting and I had no answer to them. Everyone wants to put up a good show and brings women’s cricket to the world,” Smriti, India’s dashing opener said.

While the opinion is divided whether India is ready for a women’s T20 league, India’s star player Harmanpreet feels there is enough talent pool available.

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“Yes I do think. We have 20 girls who are representing India – be it T20, 50 overs, and apart from it there is India A team. We do have 30-35 girls. Everything else depends on tomorrow’s match and how we get response from the public. And if there is good response, BCCI is very keen to form such a T20 tournament from next year,” Harmanpreet said.

New Zealand captain Suzie Bates and allrounder Sophie Devine, Australia allrounder Ellyse Perry and wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy are some of the names expected to be playing. “This is the first-ever match we will be playing with foreign players on Indian soil. Everyone is excited to part of this historical moment,” Smriti said.

Seeing the impact of the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia, New Zealand legend Suzie Bates said she could see the same happening in India.

“I think this is going to be absolutely key (women’s league), if we want to see more female cricketers in India seeing it as a career. In the WBBL, you always had the Australian players that were great players and worked hard. But now, younger players are able to make it to the Big Bash teams and be the best cricketers they can be. That just lifts the standards. So if that can happen in India, it would be massive for the women’s game.”