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IPL diary: Women’s IPL in the offing?

Watching the women cricketers train at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, Rajeev Khanna was a bit surprised. The vice-president for operations of Rajasthan Royals didn’t quite expect to see some of the women hitting a cricket ball with such power.

The ladies were training for the Women’s T20 Challenge, which is seen as a trial for a proper women’s Indian Premier League. Three teams – led by Mithali Raj, Smiriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur – played four games, including the final. And those matches were well received by the cricket fans of Jaipur. The crowds were bigger than anybody expected, given the extreme heat — hovering around 40 degrees Celsius — and the polling season.

“I think an IPL for women is very much a possibility and it has the potential to be a sustainable business model,” Khanna said. “When that happens, the Royals will certainly love to have a team.”

At the launch of what is claimed to be the first ever magazine for women’s cricket — Women’s Criczone — Saba Karim, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s general manager for cricket operations, said the organisation was exploring the possibilities of the league. The function was attended by a large number of current and former women’s cricketers.

Some of those cricketers came up with some sparkling performances at the Women’s T20 Challenge. The batting of Smriti Mandhana – the most stylish player in the women’s game – and Jemimah Rodrigues was exceptional. The tournament also saw the emergence of a 15-year-old batter Shafali Verma. Looks like even better days are ahead for women’s cricket in India.

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Straight from the airport to the presser

If you come to a press conference unprepared, it may lead to embarrassments. South Africa pacer Beuran Hendricks survived a close call when he was rushed to meet the media in Chennai, ahead of Mumbai Indians’ away encounter against Chennai Super Kings in the league stage, a few hours after landing in India. The left-arm pacer came in for the injured Alzarri Joseph in the middle of the season. The conversation that followed carried a disclaimer.

“Is this game going to be MI’s batting versus CSK’s bowling?” asked a journalist. “I have just arrived,” came the response from the South African.

“Do you think MI will be comfortable chasing here or defending?” asked another scribe. “Look, I have just arrived,” he didn’t change his answer. He couldn’t be more honest. “Did you see any of the MI games in the league so far to assess where the team stands,” I finally asked a question that I thought would make him slightly comfortable. But he hadn’t followed MI’s run. Due to the CSA T20 assignment back home for the Lions, Hendricks did not follow IPL regularly, but he expressed his joy in being back to the league. He had been part of Kings XI Punjab in the past.

“It is said that it is quite hard to come back into the IPL once you have been there and gone out, but I see it as a chance and I want to make full use of it. Zaheer Khan (director of cricket operations for MI), bowling coach Shane Bond and fast bowlers (Jasprit) Bumrah and (Lasith) Malinga have been successful for their national teams. It is for me to come in and ask as many questions as I can,” he said.

Injuries? Pitch? Strategies? He had answers to none. The journalists returned to the media box disappointed.

Article source: https://sportstar.thehindu.com/magazine/ipl-diary-womens-ipl-in-the-offing-jemimah-rodrigues-smriti-mandhana-shafali-verma/article27139753.ece

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