Women's T20 Challenge 'very much on' - Sourav Ganguly
An expanded four-team Women's T20 Challenge is in the works and will be played on the sidelines of the men's IPL 2020 playoffs week in UAE from November 1-10, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly confirmed to PTI on Sunday (August 2). The tournament, just like the IPL, will need Government of India clearances.
"I can confirm to you that the women's IPL is very much on and we do have a plan in place for the national team also," Ganguly was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
A series in South Africa before and in West Indies after the WT20 Challenge are also being planned as build-up assignments before the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand.
The confirmation comes as the first sign of resumption of top-flight cricket for the 2020 T20 World Cup runners-up. BCCI recently drew considerable flak for pulling its women's team out of the proposed tri-series in England due to 'logistical reasons'.
The T20 challenge, should it go ahead in the aforementioned window, significantly minimises the chances of Indian representation in this year's Women's Big Bash League, slated to begin on October 17 and conclude on November 29.
A likely training camp after months of break, followed by the two international series and a league of their own sandwiched in between, when confirmed, will mean the four Indian candidates - Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues & Shafali Verma - on the WBBL clubs' radar may have to turn down the offers. Similarly, other cricketers contracted to sides in the WBBL could end up missing the T20 Challenge because of the logistical difficulties of shuttling to and back from the UAE.
It is very likely though that the top Australian cricketers may once again not play in the T20 Challenge for a second year running. Last year, Cricket Australia is understood to have not allowed its contracted women's players to participate owing to a men's bilateral series dispute with the BCCI.
Last year, T20I captain and vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana along with the ODI skipper Mithali Raj led the three sides in the second edition of the tournament, played in Jaipur. The tournament is building on the moderate success garnered by a one-off game in 2018, before the board takes concrete steps towards launching a full-fledged Women's IPL.
Team and squad details yet to be confirmed. The BCCI will also need to appoint a fresh selection panel for women's cricket after the Hemlata Kala-led committee's tenure expired upon picking the squad for India's last assignment - the T20 World Cup in March.