In a recent interview with Sportskeeda, one of the answers given by Mithali Raj will certainly bring a smile to the faces of her fans. Raj, who retired from all forms of international cricket on June 8 this year was asked whether she would feature in the inaugural Women’s IPL next year, to which she answered, “I want to keep my options open.”
The question was followed up with which IPL franchise she would like to play for and the 39-year-old replied, “It’s a tough question (laughs). It depends on the franchises that would want my services. I’ll keep my options open.”
Just like players from India and overseas are eagerly looking forward to the Women’s IPL which is likely to be starting from next year, Raj, who is the leading run-getter in women’s cricket across formats is also excited about the much-awaited competition. While Australia already has a full-fledged Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in vogue since 2015, India, despite having a men’s IPL since 2008 has delayed the introduction of a Women’s IPL. One of the primary reasons cited for this delay was the lack of domestic players in Indian women’s cricket who could play a tournament as competitive as an IPL, wherein they would have to not only lock horns against the foreign players but also rub shoulders with them in the dressing room.
India’s recent success in the ICC Women’s World T20 2020 in Australia may have done a world of good for the women’s sport in the country. India made it to the finals of the ICC event and played the finale in front of a record crowd of 86,174 in the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Apart from this, India had also reached the finals of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in 2017 that was played in England, where they lost by just nine runs. Reaching the finals of two ICC events in a short span helped women’s cricket and women cricketers establish a name for themselves in the country.
Since then, the popularity of women’s cricket in India has been growing. To add some zest to this and take women’s cricket to an altogether different level, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and BCCI Secretary Jay Shah have been positive about starting a Women’s IPL in 2023. Most likely it will be a five or six-team affair.
In view of starting a Women’s IPL sometime, a tournament called the Women’s T20 Challenge was introduced in 2018. The first year saw two teams participating, including players from India and eight from overseas. In 2019, one more team was added, making it a three-team competition. So far, the four editions of the competition have been played with 2021 being an exclusion due to COVID-19.
With the success of the Women’s T20 Challenge, BCCI is all set to have a bigger and better version of the tournament in the form of Women’s IPL which is likely to be launched in 2023. Many players will be eyeing this tournament and will be eager to participate in this marquee event. One of the many players is ofcourse the former India captain, Mithali Raj.
I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.