“Wherever we go, they started coming to us and asking for picture” – Asha Sobhana

“Wherever we go, they started coming to us and asking for pictures, and that’s something new for us.” Asha Sobhana speaks about the fans recognizing the players after the success of WPL.

“Wherever we go, they started coming to us and asking for picture" - Asha Sobhana
“Wherever we go, they started coming to us and asking for picture” – Asha Sobhana

The popularity and the craze for women’s cricket in India is on the rise, and the inception of a women’s franchise league in India coined the Women’s Premier League has played the role of a catalyst.

The Inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League was a long-awaited change, answering the need for a platform, especially for the domestic players and for talent across the world to come together and showcase the skills in their armor. A total of five teams namely, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Capitals, UP Warriorz, and Gujarat Giants showed keen interest in investing in a women’s team.

The Inaugural edition of the league (4th March 2023 – 26th March 2023) was a spectacle displaying the potential of opportunities for growth to the world when it comes to women’s cricket. Mumbai Indians led by skipper Harmanpreet Kaur were crowned as the inaugural champions of the league by defeating the Delhi Capitals by seven wickets in the final. The Inaugural edition of the league also introduced new fans to the women’s game and inspired aspiring cricketers and the younger generation of girls to take up the sport.

A few domestic talents, the likes of Saika Ishaque, Shreyanka Patil, Minnu Mani, Kanika Ahuja, etc. emerged as the standout performers for their respective franchises and most of them went on to make their international debut for India. The 2nd edition of the league saw a decent build-up and it did live up to its expectations, and in fact, it was more than just about the build-up before the tournament. We witnessed a lot of close, edge-of-the-seat, thrilling encounters that went down to the wire, and a mixture of high-scoring extravaganza, which ensured the crowd, fans, and even the players were at the edge of their seats.

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If the inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League was all about displaying the potential for the growth of women in sport and introducing new fans to the women’s game, then, the 2nd edition of the WPL was all about displaying the competitiveness and showcasing their prowess in terms of the power game, alongside the technical and tactical brilliance involved.

We lifted the trophy and we went back to Bangalore and people started recognizing us wherever we went, they started coming to us and asking for pictures and that’s something new for us. So it completely changed and at the same time, you know, in the RCB unbox event also, people were there to support us. They were just chanting RCB, RCB, so that was so nice to see.” Asha Sobhana speaks about the impact created by the introduction of WPL in an interview with Times Now.

The Royal Challengers Bangalore led by skipper Smriti Mandhana, as a team had a campaign to forget in the Inaugural edition, managing just a couple of victories against Gujarat Giants and UP Warriorz, finishing fourth on the points table with four points from eight games. They bounced back and not only did they manage to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament, but, they also went on to clinch their maiden WPL title, ending their 16-year-long wait for their elusive trophy in franchise cricket.

(Information sourced from Times Now Sumit 2024 Interview)

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