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Not the best time for Women's IPL now, says Mithali Raj

967   //    21 Mar 2018, 12:19 IST

Mithali Raj had led India to the final of the World Cup in 2017, where they lost to hosts England

What's the story?

Mithali Raj, the captain of India Women's Test and ODI teams, has made it clear that the time is not ripe for the conducting of an IPL in India for women cricketers, citing the missing group of quality players presently.

“I think it’s important to have a pool of quality players who would be qualified to play the IPL kind of league. India ‘A’ itself needs quality players. Once we have so many players, it would be wise enough to think of an IPL-like league. There is a big difference between an international player and a domestic player and presently [an IPL-like league] may go against promoting women’s cricket,” she said while interacting with the media at the Cricket Centre yesterday.

In case you didn't know..

After the success of the India Women's team in the ODI World Cup in England in 2017, where they made it to the final and lost a close game to the hosts, there was a loud call for the staging of a women's IPL.

In fact, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana had signed with the Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat, respectively, in Australia's Big Bash League during the 2016-17 season itself, even before the World Cup in 2017. Next in line came Veda Krishnamurthy, who joined the Hobart Hurricanes for the 2017-18 season.

The heart of the matter

Mithali, 35, believes that the India “A” team, who lost four warm-up matches against Australia and England recently, will require its share of time to build itself.

“We have just started forming the India ‘A’ team. It will take a couple of years to get the second string in place. There are some young and talented players, but they need to be given exposure. So I am sure in a year or two we will have a better quality second-string team. We need to invest in the young players like Jemima Rodrigues, Taniya Bhatia and Pooja Vastrakar,” the veteran cricketer reasoned.

What's next?

The India Women's team will start a T20 tri-series at home against Australia and England from March 22, with the first match between India and Australia. The tournament will be two round-robin stages before the final on March 31, with all matches to be played at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.

Author's Take

After the successful campaign of the Indian Women in the World Cup in July last year, Raj herself had stated that they “should have IPL because now is the right time to create that base”.

However, perhaps the repeated losses of the “A” side brought her to the conclusion that the domestic set-up required refinement before the BCCI started a women's T20 league, like its Australian counterpart.

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A childhood cricket enthusiast, my earliest cricket memory goes back to the 2003 World Cup, when I was 7. With a hobby of cricket commentary and writing from my early days, I earned an invitation for employment by aged only 20, and have also had the opportunity to interact with the great analyst Harsha Bhogle.
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