BCCI set to conduct Women’s T20 exhibition games during IPL 2019

London: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is set to conduct matches during the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) as a follow-up to last year’s one-off exhibition game for women.

The BCCI had organised a one-match Women’s T20 Challenge at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai in 2018. Taking the experiment forward, the board will conduct a set of matches.

The planning of matches has been on for a few months now. However, staging a full-fledged T20 league like the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in Australia or the Kia Super League in the UK may take some more time, given the concerns of the BCCI over the depth of India’s domestic pool of players, ESPNcricinfo reported.

There will be just two teams this year too, with the BCCI inclined to making the two sides play a best-of-three series. The teams’ composition will be similar to that of men’s event, with a maximum of four overseas players per side.

Both the BCCI management and the Committee of Administrators have given their approval to the idea of the exhibition games, a firm plan is yet to be drawn up.

One major reason behind this is the BCCI is still waiting to finalise the IPL schedule, which is subject to the Election Commission of India announcing the schedule for the general elections. Once the IPL schedule is out, the BCCI will figure out a plan for the number of matches that can be accommodated, and the players who can be assembled in time for the women’s exhibition games.

Last year, the one-off match was played as a curtain-raiser to the first IPL Qualifier and comprised two teams — the IPL Supernovas and the IPL Trailblazers. India T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana led the Supernovas and the Trailblazers respectively.

The match was conducted as a means to test the feasibility of starting an IPL-style women’s T20 league in the country. Although, the match was a last-ball thriller and was telecast by the board’s host broadcaster, the crowd presence at the venue was thin, partly because the game had a 2 pm start.

Supernovas clinched the match by three wickets, with New Zealand and Trailblazers’ Suzie Bates winning the Player of the Match award.

The match also featured other overseas players including Australia’s Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy, England’s Danielle Wyatt and Danielle Hazell, and New Zealand’s Sophie Devine and Lea Tahuhu.