All that glitters is not gold but blue – The Story of the WPL so far

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We’re halfway through the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL), and fans have witnessed plenty of high-drama already in the competition. Here is a look at how each franchise has fared in the WPL and which of their intended plans and nitty-grittys have worked out thus far.

Last week, a massive army of cricket fans in India – from the real and the virtual world– greeted the long-awaited Women’s Premier League (WPL) with aplomb. Ahead of the competition, there were high hopes for the country’s women cricketers who had gone home with bloodied noses and broken glasses in the past but never received a platform to showcase their talent. By getting an opportunity at the WPL, they were suddenly sharing dressing rooms with some of the biggest names in the sport.

However, except for a few, most girls did not get the chance to show their desire to fight. But it was not surprising, given only five teams are participating for the coveted trophy, and there are too many skillful and explosive stars in each roster. Yet, some have failed in the early days, while others have performed beyond expectations. In this article, we will find how each franchise have rewarded the domestic circuit’s young talents and how they have executed their plans in general.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

League position - 5th [M - 4, W - 0, L - 4, Pts - 0, NRR - (-2.648)] 

Match 1 – Lost to Delhi Capitals by 60 runs,

Match 2 – Lost to Mumbai Indians by nine wickets,

Match 3 – Lost to Gujarat Giants by 11 runs,

Match 4 – Lost to UP Warriorz by 10 wickets

After the auction, it simply became a question of who would meet Royal Challengers Bangalore in the final. They acquired Smriti Mandhana, Ellyse Perry, Sophie Devine, Heather Knight, Megan Schutt, Renuka Singh Thakur, Richa Ghosh, and Dane van Niekerk, and fair to say, each of them could conquer their opponents on any given day. However, just like their male team, all they brought to their loyal fans were disappointments, as their poor team selection and tendency to crumble in pressure situations saw them endure four hammering defeats on the trot.

What worked for RCB?

Despite all the star-studded additions, the girl who stood out was 20-year-young rookie Shreyanka Patil, for whom the franchise paid INR 10 lakhs during the auction. The Karnataka-born cricketer, the third-joint highest wicket-taker in the recent Senior Women’s T20 Trophy, came to the mix in RCB’s second game against Mumbai Indians, replacing Asha Shobana. She made an impact with the bat, making 23 off 15 balls, but finished with expensive bowling figures of 2-0-32-0. Then, she showed composure with the ball in the next fixture by dismissing two well-set Gujarat Giants batters, Sophia Dunkley and Harleen Deol. Simultaneously, she kept chipping in with breezy cameos (11* off four balls, 15 off ten balls), which, unfortunately, did not come winning causes due lackluster team efforts. Therefore, it is safe to say that bringing Patel into the team so early in the season was a masterstroke.

What did not work for RCB?

The list is so long that it can not be narrowed down to a few words. The RCB seemed to have not done their homework day after day. For example, Disha Kasat was batting so well for Vidarbha in the Senior Women's T20 Trophy, topping the run-scorers chart with 300 runs at a strike rate of 114.50. However, RCB used her as a middle-order batter and left her out after two failures. Would they not get more benefits if they told Mandhana and Kasat to open and asked Devine to bat a position lower? The move could have helped them to avoid regular stumbles, and at the same time, it would boost Kasat’s confidence to play with pride and passion at the top. Even Richa Ghosh came to bat at four different numbers on four outings, in which they lost all ten wickets twice. The story indicates that they are yet to finalize what exactly her role would be.

Another critical basis behind RCB’s early woes was Mandhana, the terrible skipper. The bowling changes made by her on the field have been so random that most of them do not make any sense. Eventually, it all led them to suffer much more than they could have imagined even in their wildest dreams.

Team Ratings

Batting – 5/10

Most impressive batter – Sophie Devine (M - 4, R - 132, SR - 145.05)

Most disappointing batter – Richa Ghosh (M - 4, R - 41, SR - 100)

Bowling – 3/10

Most impressive bowler – Heather Knight (O - 6, W - 4, ER - 11)

Most disappointing bowler – Renuka Singh Thakur (O - 12, W - 1, ER - 9)

The most promising youngster - Shreyanka Patil

Gujarat Giants

League position - 4th [M - 4, W - 1, L - 3, Pts - 2, NRR - (-3.397)] 

Match 1 – Lost to Mumbai Indians by 143 runs,

Match 2 – Lost to UP Warriorz by 3 wickets,

Match 3 – Won against RCB by 11 runs,

Match 4 – Lost to Delhi Capitals by 10 wickets

So far, Gujarat Giants’ ploy of bringing in the face of Indian women’s cricket Mithali Raj as their mentor has not paid off. After an early blow to record-signing Beth Mooney during the curtain raiser, their players have failed to pick the brains of the seniors to be better, resulting in them enjoying a solitary victory from four attempts.

What worked for Gujarat Giants?

Many followers of women’s cricket in India were desperate to witness the resurgence of Harleen Deol, the batter. The 24-year-old, despite disappointments around her, fulfilled their wish. Coming out at No. 3, she has tallied a 32-ball 46, 45-ball 67, and a 14-ball 20 after a forgettable outing in the tournament opener where Mumbai Indians knocked them over for an embarrassing 64. Certainly, Deol’s return to form is a good sign for Indian cricket in the coming days.

What did not work for Gujarat Giants?

The Giants broke the bank for Australia’s star duo Mooney and Ash Gardner to bring leaders in different departments. While Mooney’s unfortunate calf injury against MI ruled her out of the entire competition, Gardner, the World’s No. 1 all-rounder in T20Is and the Player of the Series in the recent World Cup in South Africa, is yet to flourish with the bat. The others, including interim skipper Sneh Rana, have not found any consistency either, leading them to enjoy very few fond memories of their first mega event.

Team Ratings

Batting – 5/10

Most impressive batter – Harleen Deol (M - 4, R - 133, SR - 143.01)

Most disappointing batter – Ash Gardner (M - 4, R - 44, SR - 122.22)

Bowling – 5/10

Most impressive bowler – Kim Garth (O - 9, W - 5, ER - 9.22)

Most disappointing bowler – Sneh Rana (O - 10, W - 2, ER - 9.30)

The most promising youngster - Tanuja Kanwar

UP Warriorz

League position - 3rd [M - 4, W - 2, L - 2, Pts - 4, NRR - (+0.015)]

Match 1 – Won against Gujarat Giants by 3 wickets,

Match 2 – Lost to Delhi Capitals by 42 runs,

Match 3 – Won against RCB by 10 wickets,

Match 4 – Lost to Mumbai Indians by 8 wickets

Despite being one of the most potent lineups on paper, UP Warriorz have not managed to live up to the expectations of their ardent fans. They have the world’s No. 1 T20I batter and bowler in Tahlia McGrath and Sophie Ecclestone, while the inclusions of fearless Aussie wicket-keeper Alyssa Healy and India’s talismanic all-rounder Deepti Sharma have made them believe they have all the ingredients to be the history maker. Yet, they failed twice in four matches, forcing them to be sandwiched in the third spot on the table.

What worked for UP Warriorz?

Healy, possibly the biggest steal (INR 70 lakhs) at the auction, provided the much-required stability at the top in the Warriorz’ previous two matches. They seemed a brute force when she was in charge against RCB, which they won by all ten wickets to spare. Besides, the World’s best -- McGrath and Ecclestone -- have made lasting impacts and proved to be value-for-money signings, while Grace Harris showed the fans how savage she can be against the Giants.

What did not work for UP Warriorz?

At this point, the most significant concern for the Warriorz’ is the form of Deepti Sharma with the bat in hand. Her scores so far read a 16-ball 11, 20-ball 12, and a six-ball seven, failing to be anywhere close to her lofty reputation of being stubborn at the crease. Besides, they have not found the right balance in their XI, unlike the table-toppers Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals.

Team Ratings

Batting – 6/10

Most impressive batter – Alyssa Healy (M - 4, R - 185, SR - 156.77)

Most disappointing batter – Deepti Sharma (M - 4, R - 30, SR - 71.42)

Bowling – 6/10

Most impressive bowler – Sophie Ecclestone (O - 15.3, W - 8, ER - 7.03)

Most disappointing bowler – Rajeshwari Gayakwad (O - 14, W - 3, ER - 8.57)

The most promising youngster - Anjali Sarvani

Delhi Capitals

League position - 2nd [M - 4, W - 3, L - 1, Pts - 6, NRR - (+2.338)]

Match 1 – Won against RCB by 60 runs,

Match 2 – Won against UP Warriorz by 42 runs,

Match 3 – Lost to Mumbai Indians by 8 wickets,

Match 4 – Won against Gujarat Giants by 10 wickets

When it comes to taking the women’s game forward, Meg Lanning is a leader like none. There is no exception in the WPL as well, as Lanning-led DC, save for the MI fixture, have shown their ruthless approach to bulldoze the opposition.

What worked for DC?

The ploy of promoting herself as an opener worked wonderfully for Lanning, as she leads the run-scorers chart. Side by side, Shafali Verma’s flawless batting as her partner has helped them to form the most explosive opening pair in the tournament. Besides, their multi-dimensional all-rounders Marizanne Kapp, Jess Jonassen, and Alice Capsey, alongside Indian stalwarts Shikha Pandey and Jemimah Rodrigues, have stepped up whenever the situation demanded so.

What did not work for DC?

The Capitals showed little fight altogether when they met Mumbai Indians. Neither their batters nor bowlers inspired in a contest that was supposed to be a mouth-watering fixture for the spectators. Now time will tell whether it was one bad day in the office or they tend to falter against quality opponents.

Team Ratings

Batting – 8/10

Most impressive batter – Meg Lanning (M - 4, R - 206, SR - 146.10)

Most disappointing batter – None

Bowling – 7/10

Most impressive bowler – Marizanne Kapp (O - 16, W - 6, ER - 6.56)

Most disappointing bowler – Radha Yadav (O - 8, W - 1, ER - 8.25)

The most promising youngster - Tara Norris

Mumbai Indians

League position - 1st [M - 4, W - 4, L - 0, Pts - 8, NRR - (+3.524)]

Match 1 – Won against Gujarat Giants by 143 runs,

Match 2 – Won against RCB by 9 wickets,

Match 3 – Won against Delhi Capitals 8 wickets,

Match 4 – Won against UP Warriorz by 8 wickets

Whatever Harmanpreet Kaur touches in WPL seems to turn into gold as Mumbai Indians have emerged as the undisputed top dogs in the competition with picture-perfect balance. Whoever they have played against has suffered a thrashing defeat as the Mumbai paltans march direct qualification to the final by topping the league.

What worked for MI?

Among MI's many successes, Saika Ishaque was clearly the find of the tournament. The 27-year-old slow-left armer from Bengal has taken 12 wickets at an average of only 6.92 to wear the Purple Cap, while supports from Hayley Matthews, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Amelia Kerr, and Issy Wong have allowed them to scalp 36 out of the available 40 wickets. Besides, the opening duo of Matthews and Yastika Bhatia have provided stability to the side as they set the platform as per the match situations.

What did not work for MI?

The only complaint that one can probably make against MI is they have not used Amanjot Kaur and Humaira Kazi under any circumstances despite including them in the lineup in all four matches. But in MI’s defence, they were not even required to step up in any contest due to the superiority of the others.

Team Ratings

Batting – 9/10

Most impressive batter – Harmanpreet Kaur (M - 4, R - 129, SR - 181.69)

Most disappointing batter – None

Bowling – 9/10

Most impressive bowler – Saika Ishaque (O - 14.1, W - 12, ER - 5.85)

Most disappointing bowler – None

The most promising youngster - Issy Wong

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