CHENNAI: The Board of Cricket Council announced the squads for the women’s T20 exhibition match to be played on May 22, ahead of the first IPL Qualifier in Mumbai. The team led by Smriti Mandhana is named Trailblazers, while Harmanpreet Kaur’s side is called Supernovas.A total of 16 Indian women cricketers and 10 foreign players — five Australians, two from England and three from New Zealand — will feature. While Trailblazers will see India head coach Tushar Arothe take charge, India fielding coach Biju George will manage the Supernovas.
This match is seen as a trial before starting a women’s IPL soon. Welcoming the move, Arothe told Express that lack of quality players was one of the reasons why a league couldn’t be conducted this year. Talks of having one on the lines of the Women’s Big Bash in Australia and England’s Kia Super League started after India’s runners-up finish at last year’s World Cup.
“India don’t have a pool of players for a women’s IPL. But what they can do is start with four to five teams, on a smaller scale, and not with eight like in the IPL. I’m sure in the coming years, the number of women cricketers will increase and with it the standard of the game will improve. This exhibition match is a big boost.”
Unlike IPL matches which start at 4pm and 8pm, this one will begin at 2.30pm. But India’s women cricketers are not new to unusual timings. Even in the tri-nation T20 tournament featuring Australia and England in March, matches started at 10am.
“There is a humidity factor in Mumbai, but we have to take it positively that something has started for the women’s cricket. Although temperatures will be around 40 and above, it is part and parcel of the game. Playing in the afternoon is not ideal, but we can’t keep complaining. When players are ready to play, I don’t see anything wrong in having a match at 2pm.”
Conducting women’s matches in smaller cities for better crowd response is an idea that has been tried out. In the series against Australia and England, India played in Vadodara and Nagpur. The turnout was close to 9,000 in Vadodara. The match will be telecast live. “The coverage and crowd won’t be the same as in the IPL. But we have just started. Some match is better than no match.”