Women’s T20 Challenge: Everything you need to know about the squads

Trailblazers and Supernovas in action © Getty Images

The BCCI started the men’s version of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008, which is currently in its 15th season. After India’s marvelous run to the final in the World Cup 2017, it was decided that the Indian women will play a one-off exhibition match called the T20 Challenge at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai during the 2018 edition of the men’s IPL.

The 2018 match saw Supernovas led by Harmanpreet Kaur take on Smriti Mandhana’s Trailblazers. The game was played in the afternoon and Supernovas eventually got the better of Trailblazers in a last-ball finish, with Suzie Bates taking the honours as the Player of the Match.

In 2019, BCCI decided to add one more team – Velocity, led by Mithali Raj – into the mix, and four matches were played at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Supernovas once again had the last laugh, with Harmanpreet Kaur playing a match-winning knock in the final against Velocity in another thriller.

With the IPL 2020 being moved to the UAE owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the T20 Challenge was also played there in 202 and it was the turn of the Trailblazers to win the trophy this time around. Skipper Smriti Mandhana headlined the Trailblazers’ win as she scored 68 off 49 balls in the final against Supernovas.

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There was no T20 Challenge in the year 2021 as the governing body cited difficulties owing to the restrictions that were in place because of the pandemic for the absence of the tournament.

As the competition returns for another edition on May 23 and with BCCI mooting plans to hold a full-fledged Women’s IPL from 2023 as a six-team event, the importance of the challenge has gone up a bit from just being an isolated four-match event.

The teams have already been picked and are getting ready at the Maharashtra Cricket Stadium in Pune. Who are the players? Who will coach the three sides and which overseas stars have turned up this time? Women’s CricZone takes a look at all the things you need to about the tournament ahead of the opening match between Supernovas and Trailblazers.

Supernovas

Captain: Harmanpreet Kaur, current India T20I skipper, has been leading the Supernovas side from the one-off game in 2018 and will be in charge once again as they look to reclaim the trophy they held during the first two editions.

Coach: Nooshin Al Khadeer, who recently led Railways to the Senior Women’s One Day Trophy as well as the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy, will be in charge of the two-time champions. The 41-year-old has been a constant presence in the Indian domestic circuit with her coaching stints and has won multiple trophies in both List A and T20s with the Indian Railways. As an off spinner, she took 100 wickets in ODIs from 78 matches before hanging up her boots.

Win/ Loss record: Played – 7, Won – 4, Lost – 3

Top performers: Harmanpreet Kaur – 211 runs; Radha Yadav – 11 wickets

India internationals: Harmanpreet Kaur, Taniya Bhatia, Ayushi Soni, Harleen Deol, Meghna Singh, Monica Patel, Pooja Vastrakar, Priya Punia, Mansi Joshi

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Overseas players:
Alana King, Deandra Dottin, Sophie Ecclestone, Suné Luus

Squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Taniya Bhatia (vc), Alana King, Ayushi Soni, Chandu V, Deandra Dottin, Harleen Deol, Meghna Singh, Monica Patel, Muskan Malik, Pooja Vastrakar, Priya Punia, Rashi Kanojia, Sophie Ecclestone, Suné Luus, Mansi Joshi

Trailblazers

Captain: Opener and vice-captain of India’s T20 side Smriti Mandhana will put on the captain’s hat once again for the defending champions Trailblazers. Like Kaur, she has been instrumental in her team’s success and will be looking to repeat the feat from the 2020 edition.

Coach: Former Mumbai player Sunetra Paranjpe has been given the charge of Trailblazers for this edition. Having represented India in 31 matches, she will be looking to bring that experience to the T20 Challenge. The 42-year-old recently coached Baroda to the semi-finals of the Senior T20 Trophy.

Win/ Loss record: Played – 6, Won – 3, Lost – 3

Top performers: Smriti Mandhana – 221 runs; Sophie Ecclestone – 7 wickets

India internationals: Smriti Mandhana, Poonam Yadav, Arundhati Reddy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Renuka Singh Thakur, Richa Ghosh, S Meghana

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Overseas players
: Hayley Matthews, Salma Khatun, Sharmin Akter, Sophia Dunkley

Squad:
Smriti Mandhana (c), Poonam Yadav (vc), Arundhati Reddy, Hayley Matthews, Jemimah Rodrigues, Priyanka Priyadarshini, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Renuka Singh Thakur, Richa Ghosh, S. Meghana, Saiqa Ishaque, Salma Khatun, Sharmin Akter, Sophia Dunkley, Sujata Mallick, Shraddha Pokharkar



Velocity

Captain: Velocity have seen the biggest changes in terms of leadership with Mithali Raj – alongside Jhulan Goswami, who played for Trailblazers in 2020 – not being part of the tournament. The selectors decided to hand the reigns to allrounder Deepti Sharma and this will be her first stint at this level as captain. She will have Sneh Rana, who led Railways to a tenth Senior T20 Trophy title, as her deputy for the side in purple.

T20 Challenge

Deepti Sharam (L) with Sneh Rana (R) © Getty Images

Coach: Devieka Palshikaar is in charge of the Velocity side. She represented India in 16 matches and took 12 wickets. She has had various coaching stints, including one with Bangladesh. She was the assistant coach to Anju Jain, former India wicket-keeper, when they won the T20 Asia Cup 2018, beating India in the final.

Win/ Loss record: Played – 5, Won – 2, Lost – 3

Top performers:
Danielle Wyatt – 92 runs; Amelia Kerr – 6 wickets

India internationals: Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Shafali Verma, Radha Yadav, Simran Dil Bahadur, Yastika Bhatia

Overseas players:
Ayabonga Khaka, Kate Cross, Laura Wolvaardt, Natthakan Chantham

Squad: Deepti Sharma (C), Sneh Rana (VC), Shafali Verma, Ayabonga Khaka, Kiran Navgire, Kate Cross, Keerthi James, Laura Wolvaardt, Maya Sonawane, Natthakan Chantham, Radha Yadav, Aarti Kedar, Shivali Shinde, Simran Dil Bahadur, Yastika Bhatia, Pranavi Chandra