Indian cricket experts and officials have praised the Women’s Premier League as a massive success following the conclusion of the inaugural tournament, which saw the Mumbai Indians claim victory in front of a large crowd.
The franchise and media rights for the women’s edition of the Indian Premier League were sold for approximately $700 million, making it the second-most profitable domestic women’s sports competition after professional basketball in the United States.
The three-week T20 extravaganza of the latest addition to women’s cricket ended on Sunday (26) with a thrilling final, where Mumbai defeated the Delhi Capitals by seven wickets.
Nat Sciver-Brunt of England hit the winning runs, igniting exuberant celebrations at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium, which was almost at its 20,000-person capacity.
IPL chairman Arun Dhumal told AFP that the event was like a festival for women’s cricket, and the atmosphere was comparable to or better than that of any major tournament final.
According to Dhumal, the tournament was one of the best in women’s cricket, with a great response to the matches and impressive TV ratings.
West Indies all-rounder Hayley Matthews, who scored 271 runs and took 16 wickets, was named player of the series.
Meg Lanning of Australia, who led Delhi from the front with 345 runs, including 35 in the final, was the highest run-scorer in the tournament. Dhumal, a former treasurer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), described the competition as “game-changing” for the women’s game in India, a country obsessed with cricket and with a population of 1.4 billion.
“It will pave the way for many young girls (in India) to make a career in the sport,” he said.
Michael Vaughan, the former England men’s captain, took to Twitter and praised the WPL, predicting a bright future for the tournament.
Mumbai and India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, who was the first Indian cricketer to be signed by an overseas T20 franchise in 2016, believes that the WPL will help Indian players improve by exposing them to the pressure of playing at the highest level and learning from their overseas teammates.
Kaur added, “Next season will be more exciting and people will be waiting for this.”
Charlotte Edwards, former England captain and coach of the Mumbai team, described their victory in the WPL final as one of her “greatest moments in cricket.”
The team is owned by Nita Ambani, the wife of India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, whose Mumbai men’s team holds the record for the most titles in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The 16th edition of the men’s IPL starts on Friday (31) and will continue till May 21.
(With inputs from AFP)