A demand for Indian Premier League (IPL) style tournament for the women cricketers has been going rounds for quite some time now. While many have opined that this is not the right time, the pioneer of women's cricket in India Mithali Raj has urged the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) not to wait and start the tournament from next calendar year.
In 2019, a three-team women’s tournament was held featuring sides called IPL Velocity, IPL Trailblazers and IPL Supernovas. This time around, the apex body had decided to organise a four-team women’s T20 challenge to run parallel to the men’s IPL playoffs, but now it has been put on hold along with the main event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Mithali Raj has backed for full IPL-style tournament from next calendar year. She also floated the idea of having more overseas cricketers in the first season. India's ODI skipper echoed the same voice as of former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar, who backed a T20 tournament after their stupendous run in the recently-concluded ICC Women's T20 World Cup.
“I personally feel they should start a women’s IPL by next year, even if it’s on a slightly smaller scale and with some changes in rules, such as, say, have five to six foreign players in the first edition instead of four as is the case with the men’s IPL,” Raj told ESPNCricinfo.
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Meanwhile, the governing body has cited scarcity of enough players behind not starting a full-time tournament. But Mithali Raj said it can still be conducted if existing IPL franchises own teams to begin the process.
“I agree we don’t have the depth in the domestic pool yet, but the key is to get the existing franchises to form teams, even if (only) five or six of them are keen to begin the process because in any case, the BCCI was going to have four teams,” she concluded.