WPL | Uncapped gems who can trigger bidding war at auction table
The cricket world will witness a revolution unfolding in front of their eyes as the franchises will bid for elite female cricketers for the inaugural season of WPL. However, there are some uncapped players in the auction pool and these unknown faces can steal the limelight with lucrative contracts.
While the IPL has shaped itself into a commercially successful product as it is one of the reasons for money trickling down in the sports and cricketers getting rich with expensive contracts female cricket was living in exile over the years. Indian women’s cricket team had played only a single T20I against England when the first IPL game was played in 2008. The women’s sport wanted to climb the ladder of fame and money but the dream was still very distant.
Now, 15 years later, BCCI has come up with a concept that can be the torchbearer for the sport to bring loads of money and award the female cricketers with the popularity they deserve. Five franchises are set to get involved in an intense battle when they will occupy their seats at the auction table on February 13 in Mumbai. Cricketing stars like Smriti Mandhna, Harmanpreet Kaur, and Elysse Perry would be the most hyped assets but amongst those, there would be several uncapped players who are putting in hard yards in the domestic circuit.
With most of the eyes set on international cricketers, we focus on the area which might be unexplored by many - the uncapped gems. Here are some of the uncapped cricketers who can get some big bucks in the war room or can cause intense competition for recruitment among the teams across the auction table.
Jasia Akhter (India) - INR 20 Lakhs
With a restriction on teams to play only six overseas players, the importance of Indian players increases massively. The opening batter for Rajasthan, Jasia Akhtar has been putting in hard yards in the domestic circuit and she might be rewarded with a decent sum at the auction table. In the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy 2022, Akhtar was the second-highest run-getter with 273 runs from seven innings. Further, she had a strike rate of 138.57 which was the highest number amongst the top 10 batters.
Also, the 34-year-old has continued her sublime touch in the recently concluded Women’s One Day Trophy. She mustered 501 runs from nine innings topping the run charts with an average of 62.63 in the tournament. The batter displayed her ability to play with aggressive intent in the white ball with a strike rate of 112.58 which is pretty impressive for ODIs. Further, she scored 50+ runs in the games against Bengal and Mumbai which are quality sides. Considering her ability to bat with consistency at the top and bring explosive power in the powerplay, teams can back Akhter with a hefty amount of sum.
Dhara Gujjar(India) - INR 10 Lakhs
For the franchises who want to strengthen their middle order, they can back Dhara Gujjar. The Bengal cricketer has shined with the bat in the T20 Trophy played last year as well as in the recently concluded List A Trophy. She was the highest run-scorer for the Bengal while batting mostly at No. 4 and No, 5 in the shortest format with 207 runs across nine innings at 41.40 last year. Her intent was also pretty good steering the scoreboard with a strike rate of 106.70.
She was coming in at No.3 for Bengal in the freshly concluded ODI Trophy and amassed 259 runs at 51.80 in the tournament. Bengal were the runners-up in the T20 competition played last year and Gujjar played a key role with her exploits in the middle order. It is for sure that the teams would be looking beyond the centrally contracted Indian players to strengthen their middle order as the team combination allows them to accommodate 12 Indian players. The left-handed batter would like to gather up runs against some of the elite bowlers in the WPL and so she is likely to generate an intense war between teams at the auction table.
Grace Scrivens (England) - INR 10 Lakhs
There are only a few uncapped overseas picks available in the bidding process and Grace Scrivens can be the most valuable asset. The Under-19 cricketer opens the batting at the top and provides a bowling option with her off-break bowling. She recently led the English team to the final of the U-19 World Cup and played a key role with her all-round skills. Scrivens was the second-highest run-getter in the tournament with 293 runs from seven innings with an average of 41.85 and a strike rate of 129.07.
Further, her off-break bowling produced a reward of nine wickets from six matches with an economy of 3.09 which was the lowest amongst the top five wicket-takers of the competition. Further, her bowling average was 7.11 while her strike rate was 13.7. Apart from her international career, Scrivens has also proved her mettle in domestic cricket.
Her form in the domestic List A competition last year was prolific with a sum of 297 runs from six innings at 49.50 including four fifties. Scrivens not only produced magic with her bat but was equally effective with her super bowling as well. She scalped 13 wickets from six innings with a bowling average of 14.69 and a strike rate of 27.2.
Kanchan Nagwani (India) - INR 10 Lakhs
Kanchan Nagwani has been wreaking havoc in the domestic circuit with her magical spin bowling. Nagwani was at peak of her powers in the recently concluded One Day Trophy taking 19 wickets from seven innings clocking the best bowling average of the tournament which was 5.68. Also, her strike rate was 19.63 making her the sole bowler to have a strike rate below 20 amongst the top 10 highest wicket-taker. But only her form in the ODI Trophy isn’t a parameter for the teams to go behind her with their budget but her exploits in the T20 competition last year makes her a storing candidate to get a lucrative contract. Nagwani was lethal in the T20 Trophy and that shows her utility in the format.
Nagwani scalped 10 wickets from eight innings in the tournament with an economy of 5.10, a bowling average of 15.30, and a strike rate of 18. The leg-spinner has been put a price tag of INR 10 Lakhs but with the teams having a purse of INR 12 crores at their service they might use their purchase power fully to recruit the bowling all-rounder.
Sonal Kalal (India) - INR 20 Lakhs
There is another Indian spinner up for grabs in the auction and her performances in the domestic competitions might attract a lot of bids from the franchises. Kalal will be coming into the auction after taking 16 wickets from eight innings with an average of 11.62 and a strike rate of 26.31 in the One Day Trophy played this year. The spinner can be handy for the teams on Indian pitches and so they can get a good deal by signing up the cricketer for her services.
Her performance in the domestic T20 competition held in 2022 provides another reason for the teams to back her with their finances. Kalak was the second-highest wicket-taker in the competition with 14 wickets from seven innings with just an economy of 4.17. Her bowling average was impressive at 8.35 while she registered a strike rate of 12. The cricketer is included in the last set of the auction but the teams can get benefits even at the end of the day by hiring Kalal for her quality spin bowling.
There is a high possibility that the teams can sign some most beneficial deals in the auction by trying to get these cricketers by paying a cheap amount of money. However, there are a few more uncapped cricketers who can generate a bidding war amongst bidding entities.
Notable Exclusions: Nicola Hancock, Nensi Patel, Minnu Mani, P N Khemnar, Swagatika Rath, K R Zanzad,