22nd May 2018, is etched in the memory of every cricket-loving fan and supporter of women's sport. The world witnessed a revolution in the making as the inaugural match of the Women's T20 Challenge involving the Supernovas and the Trailblazers went all the way down to the wire.
With the highest quality of skills exuberated by the two sides, the Supernovas, led by Haramanpreet Kaur held their nerves to chase down 127 runs in an absolute cliffhanger.
The Indian Premier League is arguably one of the most successful tournaments in the history of the game. In the past decade, the competition has been fairly responsible for giving the young Indian players an ideal opportunity to showcase their talent and learn from the best of the players all around the world.
The Women’s T20 challenge - won by Smriti Mandhana's Trailblazers this season- is also an outlet for the BCCI to ensure the steady progression of women’s cricket, and a means to safeguard the format from losing the spotlight.
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The inception of the Women's T20 Challenge
The standard of women's cricket has improved heaps and bounds with the emergence of young talent who have incorporated a fearless style of play, taking the world cricket by a storm.
The nerves and pressure of playing in the finals of the world event at the Home of Cricket combined with a chance to script history was clearly visible as the team squandered a solid platform by the top order in the run-chase.
Chasing 229 for the coveted trophy, they lost their last seven wickets of 28 runs and were bowled out for 219. Despite falling agonisingly short by nine runs in the summit clash, the team surprised one and all with their dominant show all through the iconic event.
With a sole intention of giving the women's players an exposure after their stupendous run in the mega event along with voices of former players and experts of the game enabled the Board to organize an exhibition match.
The match, also known as the Women's T20 Challenge comprised of some of the best international players along with the domestic talent and was played ahead of the Qualifier 1 of the men's IPL in 2018.
The quality of cricket exhibited by the players in the one-off game along with the immense pool of talent available at the domestic level helped the Board introduce a third team, Velocity in the second edition of the tournament.
A star in the making
While the world witnessed the exploits of Shafali Verma in the recently concluded ICC Women's T20 World Cup in Australia, the ardent fans of Indian cricket first got a glimpse of her immaculate talent in the last edition of the Women's T20 Challenge.
The teenager smashed 34 off 31 balls with five boundaries and one massive hit over the fence to help Velocity comfortably chase down a total of 113 runs against the Trailblazers.
The tournament proved to be a stepping stone for her, as within a couple of months, she was picked in the Indian team for a home series against South Africa in the shortest format of the game.
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Ideal platform for the domestic players
Across two editions of the tournament, the Women's IPL has been a catalyst in unearthing many domestic talents and helping them in their journey from local cricket to donning the national jersey.
From the likes of Devika Vaidya to Richa Ghosh, the youngsters have been fortunate to share the dressing room with some of the best players in the world and learn from their experience at the international level whilst creating an impact.
The league, not only allows the players to showcase their skills at the world arena but also prepares them to handle the pressure of playing in front of a capacity crowd and millions of others watching it on television.
The tournament has also given the Indian team management and the national selectors a chance to witness some of the new and upcoming talents in domestic cricket and strengthen the quality of the Indian team.
The inception of the Women's IPL is the start of something very special in the history of Indian cricket and as fans of the game, we believe this is an ideal platform for the players to shine and storm their way into the national side.