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WPL 2023: A great beginning; fans await home-away format from next season

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

Women's Premier League (WPL) 2023: A great beginning; fans await home-away format from next season. Mumbai Indians Women clinch trophy in inaugural WPL season.

WPL 2023_ Harmanpreet Kaur lead Mumbai Indians Women to WPL Trophy  _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©WPLT20_Twitter)
Harmanpreet Kaur lead Mumbai to WPL Trophy (Images: ©WPLT20/Twitter)

All 22 games of Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023 across two grounds - the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai and Dr DY Patil Sports Academy in Navi Mumbai - in 22 days provided enough reasons and moments to celebrate the rise of women’s cricket in India.


A different experience and atmosphere for the players

It wasn’t just the winning moment for Mumbai Indians, but it was the moment of huge achievement for those who have tirelessly given their all to raise the value of women’s cricket in India.


From those empty seats during the Women’s Cricket World Cup in 2013 in India where the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Board of Cricket Council in India (BCCI) were required to invite students from the schools in Mumbai for the opening game in Brabourne Stadium and to find only around 15 per cent of seats getting occupied, to this point, when even two days before the final of the WPL, there was not a single ticket left, women’s cricket in India has completed a full circle. Most of the games in this tournament were sold to capacity.


For the well-established India players like Harmanpreet Kaur or Smriti Mandhana, playing before a well-known fan base and a packed stadium wasn’t new given they have been part of national games along with various foreign T20 leagues like Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) or The Hundred. But for young players like Saika Ishaque or Shreyanka Patil, it was certainly a new experience and a different atmosphere.


The new learnings from the overseas players, like how Jammu and Kashmir’s Jasia Akhtar learnt the skill of dealing with success and failure from Meg Lanning was an overwhelming thing. Alyssa Healy saying that she had a goal of improving the technique of young India players would surely help enhance the value of women’s cricket in India.


Afterall, the last three weeks wasn’t just about a game of cricket, but it was about making a brand out of women’s cricket in India and lifting its importance for the near future.


WPL 2023_ Sophie Devine scored 99 off 36 against Gujarat Giants in league games _Walking Wicket (Images_ ©WPLT20_Twitter)
Sophie Devine scored 99 off 36 against Gujarat Giants (Images: ©WPLT20/Twitter)

High-scoring games was common place in WPL 2023

Power-hitting was a really common factor in this season of the WPL. In the very first innings where Mumbai Indians put up 207/5 in their 20 overs with the help of 31 boundaries and 6 sixes provided a glimpse of what to expect from the tournament.


In a total of 22 games including the final, there were four instances when a team crossed the 200-run mark with the highest total of the season being achieved by Delhi Capitals Women (DC-W) when they posted 223/2 against Royal Challengers Bangalore Women (RCB-W) in just the second game of the tournament. Quite interestingly, all the four 200+ team totals arrived in the first 11 innings of the season and none since then.


Six times in this WPL, teams scored from 176-200 while eleven times there were scores between 150 and 175. The rest 23 times saw teams ending at less than the 150-run mark. The lowest total of the season was posted by Gujarat Giants (GG) where they could manage only 64 in 15.1 overs during their very first game against Mumbai Indians.


A total of 159 sixes were cracked in this season of the WPL with Delhi Capitals topping the chart with 43 of them. The Royal Challengers Bangalore held the second place with 36 sixes while UP Warriorz came third in the table with 29 sixes. Gujarat Giants were at the bottom with 24 sixes whereas Mumbai Indians crunched 27 sixes.



Let’s take a look at the players who have a high strike rate with scoring more than 100 runs:

Player

Matches

Innings

Runs

Strike Rate

Highest Score

Shafali Verma

09

09

252

185.29

84

Sophia Dunkley

06

06

121

175.36

65

Sophie Devine

08

08

266

172.72

99

Grace Harris

06

05

230

165.46

84

Tahila McGrath

09

08

302

158.11

90*

The most sixes (13) individually were cracked in this tournament jointly by Shafali Verma and Sophie Devine, while Alice Capsey and Hayley Matthews came joint-second in the list with 10 sixes. The most boundaries (50) individually were launched by Meg Lanning while Natalie Sciver-Brunt came second in the list with 47 fours.


WPL 2023, MI W vs DC W_ Hayley Matthews took 3-5 in WPL final against Delhi Women; MI beat Delhi and win first WPL title _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©WPLT20_Twitter)
Hayley Matthews gets purple cap in WPL 2023 (Images: ©WPLT20/Twitter)

Let’s take a look at the top five bowlers of this WPL 2023

Player

Mat

Inns

Wkts

Ave

Eco

BBI

4w/5w

Hayley Matthews

10

10

16

12.62

5.94

3/5

0/0

Sophie Ecclestone

09

09

16

14.68

6.61

4/13

1/0

Issy Wong

10

10

15

14.00

6.46

4/15

1/0

Amelia Kerr

10

10

15

14.06

6.45

3/22

0/0

Saika Ishaque

10

10

15

16.26

7.00

4/11

1/0

There were few five-wicket hauls from Kim Garth, Tara Norris and Marizanne Kapp, who also finished the season with best bowling figures of 5/15 against Gujarat Giants. Yastika Bhatia won the ‘Emerging Player of the Year’ award for scoring 214 runs in 10 innings. Besides all of these, there were few brilliant catches and run outs; some great captaincy learning for new captains like Smriti Mandhana or Sneh Rana while the young players enjoyed their moments in the tournament.



Home-away format will increase the brand value of WPL in future

Even though Women’s Premier League saw immense success in its first season, there is always scope for improvement. Unless BCCI introduces a new franchise in the upcoming season, it will be great if they keep the same five teams for a certain period and don’t plan mega auctions every year. That will help the franchise to gel players with their set-up.


More games in a season like the other T20 leagues will be another exciting things to look forward for the next season of the WPL. But the one thing that has the power to grow this league in all parts of India will be the introduction of home-away format.


Just to talk a little about the Indian Premier League (IPL), Shivam Mavi spoke about goosebumps when he picked up his maiden IPL wicket at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The other day, after a short social media notice, three stands at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai was full to see their beloved ‘Thala’ MS Dhoni and the practice of Chennai Super Kings (CSK). The chants of ‘RCB, RCB’ and ‘ABD, ABD’ at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangaluru is always a special feeling for the whole team.


Now, it will be great for the fans of Delhi to enjoy those cracking shots of Shafali Verma, or for the Bengaluru crowd chanting the name of Smriti Mandhana. This will inspire a new generation of plauers from various parts of the country.


But whatever has been witnessed in the maiden season of the Women’s Premier League (WPL), the only constant thing is the rise of women’s cricket in India.


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