W Power 2024

Women's Premier League: Top five players to watch out for

From Phoebe Litchfield to Ashwani Kumari, these cricketers can make the second edition of the T20 tournament come alive with their on-field exploits

Published: Feb 22, 2024 10:39:35 AM IST
Updated: Feb 22, 2024 10:52:51 AM IST

Women's Premier League: Top five players to watch out forChamari Athapaththu Image: Jan Kruger-ICC/ICC via Getty Images

Women’s cricket had to wait for long to get the deserved recognition. When the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) finally unveiled the Women’s Premier League (WPL) last year, there was a ray of hope for women cricketers and fans. The T20 league not only helped players with their finances but also provided them with a platform to showcase their skills to the world.

WPL was proposed as the women’s version of the Indian Premier League (IPL)—which revolutionised the men’s game in many ways—and in the first edition itself, the league left a huge impression. According to official broadcaster Jio Cinema, WPL 2023 delivered the highest viewership in any women’s event globally with over 10 million people tuning in to watch the finals between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals.

As in the inaugural edition, five franchises battled to pick their desired players for the second season in an auction held in December. The minimum base price for players was set at Rs10 lakh, and quite a few players were bought for multiple crores as well.

WPL 2024 is scheduled to start on February 23 and will be played in Bengaluru and Delhi. The five teams will play each other twice in the group stages and the top three ranked teams in terms of points shall proceed to the playoffs. Almost all star women cricketers from across the world played the first edition of the league and will continue to grace the event this season too. Here are five players who can surprise everyone with their performances in WPL 2024.

1. Chamari Athapaththu (UP Warriorz)

The Sri Lankan captain wasn’t surprisingly picked in the inaugural edition of the WPL auction. But her consistent performances throughout 2023 made everyone believe that she could be one of the most sought-after players in the auction for the second edition. However, she again went unsold.

It was only after English cricketer Lauren Bell withdrew from the tournament that the door opened for Athapaththu. She was named her replacement in the UP Warriorz squad. The left-handed batter has been scoring big runs consistently, both in international cricket and other leagues. She was the second-highest run-getter in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) 2023, scoring 552 runs at an average of 42.

Apart from her batting heroics, Athapaththu is also more than capable with the ball. She has taken 40 wickets at an economy of 6.7 in Women’s International T20s. As WPL 2024 is her first edition, she would want to make the most of it and prove her worth, more so because she was rejected twice initially.

Women's Premier League: Top five players to watch out forVrinda Dinesh Image: Surjeet Yadav - ECB/ECB via Getty Images

2. Vrinda Dinesh (UP Warriorz)

In the WPL 2024 auction, when teams were rigorously auctioning for Vrinda Dinesh, many people wondered who she was. The 22-year-old is yet to play international cricket, but has already made an impression with her performances in domestic cricket.

The right-handed batter who bowls occasional leg breaks had a dream run in the Senior Women T20 Trophy 2023—the top Indian women’s domestic tournament—where she scored 211 runs. Her big-hitting abilities set her apart from the others and helped grab the attention of WPL franchises. Scoring at a quick rate is still something that is not too popular in women’s cricket, and Vrinda’s strike rate of 154 in the tournament got her in the reckoning.

She also has a good record at the Under-23 level. WPL 2024 could be a great opportunity for her to further elevate her career and make it to the Indian team. She has the skills and the firepower to topple even the best bowlers in the league.

Women's Premier League: Top five players to watch out forPhoebe Litchfield Image: Mark Evans/Getty Images

3. Phoebe Litchfield (Gujarat Giants)

Phoebe Litchfield is just 20, but she has already made a mark in the international arena for her ball-striking abilities. Once she gets going, she has the ability to win matches on her own. Litchfield has a staggering strike rate of 170 and an average of 37 in the 11 Women’s International T20s that she has played so far.

The Aussie cricketer was bought for Rs1 crore by Gujarat Giants, making her one of the costliest players of the auction. She would be eager to continue her big-hitting abilities in WPL 2024 and lead her team to winning ways.

Phoebe has a unique ability to manipulate the field and is quite handy both up and down the order. It will be interesting to see how Gujarat uses her since they already have solid openers. However, Litchfield’s quick-scoring abilities might prompt the team to bat her at the top, so that she makes the most of the power play when only two fielders guard the boundary.

Also read: Why owners Diageo gave RCB a free hand to buy a WPL team

4. Ashwani Kumari (Delhi Capitals)

Ashwani Kumari could be one of those unknown domestic players who could surprise everyone with her performance in WPL 2024. After finishing the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy as the second-highest run-getter last year, the Jharkhand-born cricketer displayed her strokeplay in the inter-zonal tourney as well—she had a blistering strike rate of 184 in the tournament.

Although Kumari hasn’t had too much success with the bat recently, the spark that she brings with her batting could definitely be a game-changer for Delhi Capitals. She is capable of bowling a bit of medium pace as well. Delhi has a star-studded squad and Ashwani could utilise the opportunity to get herself in that top bracket.

5. Sayali Satghare (Gujarat Giants)

Kashvee Gautam was the joint costliest player in the WPL 2024 auction with Gujarat Giants acquiring her at Rs2 crore. However, due to an injury, she was ruled out of the tournament, leaving Gujarat Titans short of a gun player. Giants announced Sayali Satghare as her replacement.

The bowling all-rounder went unsold at the auction initially, but now has the opportunity to make a case for herself at WPL 2024. She recently struck a cracking hundred against Arunachal Pradesh in the Senior Women’s one-day tournament with the bat. Satghare is also known for bowling a fiery spell of seven for five against Nagaland back in 2021. She has the capability with both bat and ball, but how she transforms it at the higher level would be interesting to see.

Honourable Mentions: Shabnim Ismail (Mumbai Indians), Ekta Bisht (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

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