Cricket is a game that is full of uncertainties, and it is this uncertainty that makes it one of the most exciting sports in the world. The same can be said about the inaugural Women’s T20 Challenge, or the Women’s IPL (WPL), which is set to kick off on March 4, 2023. While the tournament will feature some of the biggest names in women’s cricket from around the world, it is also an opportunity for the lesser-known players to shine.
We will take a closer look at some of the lesser-known cricketers who could be game-changers at the WPL.
Ashwani Kumari (Gujarat Giants)
Ashwani Kumari is a hard-hitting batswoman who has been making a name for herself in the domestic circuit. In the 2020-21 season, Ashwani played a crucial role in Jharkhand’s runners-up finish in the Senior Women’s One Day Trophy. She scored 237 runs in the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy earlier in the season at a strike rate of 135.42, which was second only to Jasia Akhtar’s 138.57 among those with at least 150 runs in the tournament.
Ashwani is expected to bat in the middle order for the Gujarat Giants, but with a lot of top-order options at Giants’ dispo
sal, she might have to show her wares as a finisher and chip in with her right-arm seam bowling.
V Sneha Deepthi (Delhi Capitals)
V Sneha Deepthi is a power-hitting opening batswoman who can take advantage of the powerplay at the top of the order. She led South Zone in the Senior Women’s Inter-Zonal T20s in November last year and scored 114 runs in five outings at a strike rate of 162.85. Deepthi is the only active mother in the Indian domestic circuit, and her ability to balance her cricketing career and motherhood is commendable.
It won’t be a surprise if the Delhi Capitals pair Deepthi, ahead of some of the other options, with Shafali Verma at the top of the order. Having already had a brief taste of playing for India – while being the youngest T20I debutant for India before Shafali – she’d be hungry for more.
Disha Kasat (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Disha Kasat is a natural strokemaker who topped the batting charts in the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy with 300 runs at a strike rate of 114.50, which prompted Royal Challengers Bangalore to pick her up at her base price of INR 10 lakh. Kasat could well partner captain Smriti Mandhana at the top of the order, in case they decide to go with an Indian pairing.
Kasat’s ability to score quickly could be crucial for Royal Challengers Bangalore, especially on surfaces like Brabourne Stadium and DY Patil Stadium, which are known to be batting-friendly.
Amanjot Kaur (Mumbai Indians)
Amanjot Kaur is an explosive batswoman who can hit the ball hard and bowl seam. She returned to Punjab after switching to Chandigarh in 2019-20, a move she credits her improvement to. She scored at more than a run-a-ball for Punjab in the domestic season and picked up eight wickets in the Inter-Zonals.
Amanjot displayed a calm attitude on her India debut after walking in in a tricky situation in the lower-middle order, something that could serve her well in the Mumbai Indians side, where options for the top order are plenty.
Kiran Prabhu Navgire (UP Warriorz)
Kiran Prabhu Navgire is a hard-hitting batswoman who has already made a name for herself in domestic cricket. She came into the spotlight after becoming the first Indian to hit a 150-plus score in a T20 match during her record-breaking 76-ball 162 for Nagaland against Arunachal Pradesh. Further hard-hitting exploits in the Women’s T20 Challenge last year saw her earn her India cap. However, she couldn’t capitalize on the sporadic chances she got at the top level and was eventually dropped after the Women’s T20 Asia Cup last year. She then had a forgettable Senior Women’s T20 Challenger Trophy.
Despite her recent struggles, Navgire is a valuable addition to the UP Warriorz squad. The team lacks experienced Indian batters, and Navgire could fill that gap. She is an aggressive player who can score quick runs and take the game away from the opposition. If she gets going, she could be a game-changer for the UP Warriorz.
Shreyanka Patil (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Shreyanka Patil is an offspinner with a high-arm action who generates dip and turn and is an economical bowler. She picked up 20 wickets in the Senior Women’s One Day Trophy for Karnataka, who finished runners-up. She also picked up 18 wickets across three T20 tournaments in the domestic season. She is also a reliable batter and it won’t be a surprise if she starts for Royal Challengers in a bid to have a long batting order.
Patil is a versatile cricketer who can contribute with both bat and ball. She is a good off-spinner who can bowl in any situation and control the run flow. She is also a handy lower-order batswoman who can score quick runs when needed. Patil is a valuable addition to the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad, and she could play an important role in the team’s success in the WPL.
Jintimani Kalita (Mumbai Indians)
Jintimani Kalita is a young cricketer who has already shown her potential in domestic cricket. In the Senior Women’s One Day Trophy, Assam were four down for 56. Kalita walked in and played a mature innings of 78 off 114 balls and helped them get to 214, which proved one run too many for Meghalaya. Only 19, she is the lone player in the WPL from Assam and bowls seam.