India is ready for Women’s IPL, says Shantha Rangaswamy

Veda will lead the President’s XI, which will be coached by Mamatha Maben, the former India allrounder.

Shantha Rangaswamy IPL
Shantha Rangaswamy. (Photo Source: Twitter)

In an attempt to popularize women’s cricket in India, the Karnataka State Cricket Association will host the first-ever Twenty20 exhibition match featuring the top cricketers of the state on September 23 in Hubli. The game, to be played between a KSCA President’s XI and a KSCA Secretary’s XI before the final of the Karnataka Premier League 2017, will feature Veda Krishnamurthy and Rajeshwari Gayakwad, stars of the Women’s World Cup 2017, along with Karuna Jain and Vanitha VR, also India internationals.

Veda will lead the President’s XI, which will be coached by Mamatha Maben, the former India all-rounder. The Secretary’s XI will be captained by Rakshitha Krishnappa, the Karnataka Women captain. Vinay Mruthyunjaya, a member of the KPL governing council who is also the KSCA spokesperson emphasized that this is the start of something new.

“This is just the start. We are definitely going to see more of this in future, and I am sure going ahead in the KPL, we are going to see more women cricketers being involved.”

Women’s cricket noticed immense popularity after India’s successful World Cup campaign, where they reached the final, falling short by nine runs in a nerve-wracking contest against England. Mruthyunjaya added that it was time they offered a platform for the state’s women cricketers to showcase their talent.

The visionaries behind involving women cricketers on the state-level T20 tournament were Shantha Rangaswamy, the former India captain and the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Women from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), and Kalpana Venkatachar, also a former India player.

“We have constantly been at it, and everywhere people are asking this, but how many have managed to succeed?” asked Rangaswamy. “All of us, the secretary (R Sudhakar Rao) and the president (Sanjay M Desai) had a meeting and the KSCA were kind enough to oblige our request,” she added.

“This is just a precursor because they wanted something to showcase women’s cricket. Hopefully, this will pave the way for a regular KPL for women next year. Players from other states don’t play in the KPL, but we can find enough players for 4-5 teams. I think we should start off, that is the only way we will grow,” Rangaswamy stated.

Before the World Cup final, Mithali Raj, the Indian skipper, had mentioned that a victory would not only change the mindset back home but also invite various changes like the start of a women’s IPL. In support of Raj’s view, Rangaswamy emphasised that India was ready for a Women’s IPL and that it was up to the BCCI to take a stance and help take the game forward.

“I think our Indian women are ready for IPL,” remarked Rangaswamy. “Let us not look at sponsorship, let us not look at money. Initially, there are going to be stumbling blocks, but I am positive we can form five-six teams in the IPL, call foreign players on the same model as IPL for men, and take it from there. That will be really good, because it will increase spectator interest and help in widening the base. It will attract more girls to take to the game, and that I think is the priority.”