Will Mumbai Indians continue their domination? | WPL 2024 Analysis

Mumbai Indians look strong once again, RCB, UP Warriorz, Gujarat GIants reinforced their sides at the auction

Keerthana N
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WPL 2024 trophy captains

© Sportzpics / BCCI

The players and the teams are getting ready for the second edition of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2024. The anticipation is soaring high with 22 matches all set to be played in Bangalore and Delhi from February 23 to March 17. The tournament will kickstart when Mumbai Indian lock horns with Delhi Capitals in the opening encounter at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Friday (February 23).

Let’s take a look at all the five participating teams and how they stack ahead of the opening fixture.

Mumbai Indians

WPL 2023: Champions

In the first season, Mumbai Indians assembled a strong squad with three of the world’s leading allrounders in Nat Sciver-Brunt, Hayley Matthews and Amelia Kerr in the side led admirably by Harmanpreet Kaur. They started WPL 2023 on a bang and despite the temporary setback at the backend, beat UP Warriorz in the Eliminator before triumphing over Delhi Capitals in an electrifying final to claim the inaugural championship.

Ahead of the second auction, Mumbai retained most of their core, but also made some significant additions with fiery pacer Shabnim Ismail being the most prolific signing. They have also added some key domestic talents in Haryana’s Amandeep Kaur, Kerala’s Sajana S, Tamil Nadu leggie Keerthana SB, and Mumbai’s Fatima Jaffer.

Captain: Harmanpreet Kaur

Coach: Charlotte Edwards

Star performer in WPL 2023:

Nat Sciver-Brunt: Nat Sciver-Brunt, proved to be an indispensable asset for the Mumbai-based team last season. Her outstanding performance saw the England allrounder amass an impressive tally of 332 runs and claim ten wickets, showcasing her exceptional skills with both bat and ball. Sciver-Brunt played a key role in both the Eliminator and the final to take Mumbai to the title.

Player to watch:

Amandeep Kaur: Amandeep Kaur was a shrewd pick by Mumbai Indians in the second auction as they signed the 20-year-old from Haryana for ten lakhs INR. As the only left-arm wrist-spinner in the league, she offers a rare skill that’s not prevalent even in international cricket. Amandeep has been a consistent performer for Haryana in domestic cricket this season and helped them lift the Under-23 One Day Trophy before joining the Mumbai camp.

Win/ Loss record: Played – 10, Won – 8, Lost - 2

India internationals: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Amanjot Kaur, Pooja Vastrakar, Saika Ishaque, Yastika Bhatia

Overseas players: Amelia Kerr, Chloe Tryon, Hayley Matthews, Issy Wong, Natalie Sciver-Brunt, Shabnim Ismail

Squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Amelia Kerr, Chloe Tryon, Hayley Matthews, Amanjot Kaur, Humairaa Kaazi, Issy Wong, Jintimani Kalita, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Pooja Vastrakar, Priyanka Bala, Saika Ishaque, Yastika Bhatia, Shabnim Ismail, S Sajana, Amandeep Kaur, Fatima Jaffer, SB Keerthana

Prediction: Champions

Delhi Capitals

WPL 2023: Runners up

In the debut season of the WPL, Delhi Capitals were one of the two teams to dominate the group stages and qualified directly for the final before going down against the eventual champions Mumbai Indians. They were led admirably by Meg Lanning both with the bat and her leadership. Delhi were also the only side to make use of the option of playing an associate player as the fifth overseas player in the XI with the inclusion of Tara Norris.

At the second auction, they made only three signings after retaining most of their squads. Promising Australia and Melbourne Stars allrounder has swapped her orange Gujarat Giants jersey for the Delhi Capitals kit. Another pace bowling allrounder Ashwani Kumari has also joined the Delhi ranks from Giants. Captain: Meg Lanning

Coach: Jonathan Batty

Star performer in WPL 2023:

Shafali Verma: Shafali Verma was a star buy for Delhi Capitals at the inaugural WPL auction as they secured the Indian opener for two crore INR. Known for her explosive batting, Shafali will always try to play in her inimitable style. She emerged as Delhi’s second-highest run-scorer - after Lanning - with 252 runs from nine matches at an exceptional strike rate of 185.29.

Player to watch:

Annabel Sutherland: Annabel Sutherland had a tough initiation to WPL when she struggled with both bat and ball while playing for Gujarat Giants. But since then, Sutherland has shown terrific improvement for Australia and Melbourne Stars in the format. In the December 2023 auction, she sparked a bidding war before Capitals acquired her services for two crore INR. If Marizanne Kapp misses out on certain matches, Sutherland’s role could be vital.

Win/ Loss record: Played – 9, Won – 7, Lost - 2

India internationals: Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, V Sneha Deepthi, Shikha Pandey, Arundhati Reddy, Taniyaa Bhatia, Radha Yadav, Minnu Mani, Poonam Yadav, Titas Sadhu

Overseas players: Meg Lanning, Marizanne Kapp, Alice Capsey, Laura Harris, Annabel Sutherland, Jess Jonassen

Squad: Meg Lanning (c), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Marizanne Kapp, Alice Capsey, Laura Harris, Sneha Deepthi, Annabel Sutherland, Jess Jonassen, Shikha Pandey, Ashwani Kumari, Arundhati Reddy, Taniyaa Bhatia, Aparna Mondal, Radha Yadav, Minnu Mani, Poonam Yadav, Titas Sadhu

Prediction: Eliminator

UP Warriorz

WPL 2023: Eliminator

UP Warriorz had a mixed bag of a season in the first edition having won and lost four matches in the group stages before going down against Mumbai Indians in the Eliminator. Alyssa Healy-led side has a great Aussie core in the form of Healy herself, Tahlia McGrath, Grace Harris with indomitable Sophie Ecclestone for company. Their Indian contingent is headlined by allrounder Deepti Sharma and left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad.

At the second auction, Warriorz acquired England’s Danni Wyatt to complete their overseas quota having released Shabnim Ismail earlier. But they were struck a body blow with Lauren Bell pulling out of the tournament to concentrate on the upcoming New Zealand tour. In place of the England pacer, the UP side opted for Chamari Athapaththu. Considering the Sri Lankan skipper’s form, it’s a great signing, but that leaves them with only Indian pace bowling options in the squad.

Captain: Alyssa Healy

Coach: Jon Lewis

Star performer in WPL 2023:

Tahlia McGrath:
Tahlia McGrath emerged as the standout batter for the team last season, showcasing her prowess with an impressive tally of 302 runs. With a remarkable average of 50.33 and a striking strike-rate of 158.11, including four fifties and a top score of 90 not out, McGrath proved to be a formidable force on the field.

Player to Watch:

Chamari Athapaththu: Chamari Athapaththu came in as a replacement player for England pacer Lauren Bell after a stellar year in all forms of cricket. The Sri Lankan captain was the player of the tournament in WBBL09 with her efforts for Sydney Thunder despite not being picked up initially by any of the sides. UP Warriorz will be hoping for the southpaw to do the same for them.

Win/Loss record: Played-9, Won-4, Lost-5

India internationals: Anjali Sarvani, Deepti Sharma, Kiran Navgire, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Gouher Sultana

Overseas players: Alyssa Healy (c), Chamari Athapaththu, Grace Harris, Lauren Bell, Sophie Ecclestone, Tahlia Mcgrath, Dani Wyatt

Prediction: Fourth

Squad: Alyssa Healy (c), Anjali Sarvani, Deepti Sharma, Grace Harris, Kiran Navgire, Lauren Bell, Laxmi Yadav, Parshavi Chopra, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, S Yashasri, Shweta Sehrawat, Sophie Ecclestone, Tahlia Mcgrath, Dani Wyatt, Vrinda Dinesh, Saima Thakor, Poonam Khenmar, Gouher Sultana

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)

WPL 2023: Fourth

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), despite a challenging debut season in the WPL where they secured only two wins in eight matches and finished second from bottom, will be gearing up for reversal of fortunes in the second season. They have brought in a new coach in Luke Williams. He is coming to the Indian franchise league with some success having led Adelaide Strikers to the title in the ninth edition of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL). Captain Smriti Mandhana will be hoping to strike a significant partnership with him and help the Bangalore based franchise to their first title.

RCB strengthened their overseas line-up with the inclusion of England’s Kate Cross and Australia’s Georgia Wareham, Sophie Molineux at the auction. With Heather Knight pulling out, they have also added South Africa allrounder Nadine de Klerk into the mix.

Captain: Smriti Mandhana

Coach: Luke Williams

Star performer in WPL 2023:

Sophie Devine: Sophie Devine was the standout performer for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the inaugural season. With 266 runs at a remarkable strike rate of 172.22, her clean hitting and medium-pace bowling provided a silver lining in their otherwise disappointing campaign.

Player to watch out for:

Ekta Bisht: RCB have a lot of stars in their mix, but they have done well to strengthen their domestic contingent with the inclusion of some familiar names. The experienced Ekta Bisht had an impressive domestic season where she led Uttarakhand admirably to the finals of both T20 and One Day tournaments. Mandhana will be hoping for the left-arm spinner to bring her international experience to the competition.

Win/ Loss record: Played – 8, Won – 2, Lost - 6

India internationals: Smriti Mandhana (c), Renuka Singh Thakur, Richa Ghosh, Shreyanka Patil, Ekta Bisht, Shubha Satheesh, S Meghana, Simran Dil Bahadur

Overseas players: Ellyse Perry, Nadine de Klerk, Sophie Devine, Georgia Wareham, Kate Cross, Sophie Molineux

Squad: Smriti Mandhana (c.), Asha Shobana, Disha Kasat, Ellyse Perry, Nadine de Klerk, Indrani Roy, Shradda Pokharkar, Renuka Singh Thakur, Richa Ghosh, Shreyanka Patil, Sophie Devine, Georgia Wareham, Kate Cross, Ekta Bisht, Shubha Satheesh, S. Meghana, Simran Dil Bahadur, and Sophie Molineux.

Prediction: Runners-up

Gujarat Giants

WPL 2023: Fifth

It’s an understatement to say Gujarat Giants didn’t have the greatest of tournaments in the inaugural edition. They finished last after winning only two matches in the group stages and ended up as the wooden spooner with a worse run rate than RCB.

As expected, they made a lot of changes at the auction having released most of their squad earlier. Last year, the absence of captain Beth Mooney due to injury contributed to their last-place finish, Mooney is back at the helm and they have also signed the promising Phoebe Litchfield at the auction. However, they suffered a setback with Lauren Cheatle pulling out of the competition having undergone surgery for skin cancer. New Zealand’s Lea Tahuhu will replace her in the squad and they have the added advantage with the option of playing a fifth overseas player in Kathryn Bryce in the associate quota.

Captain: Beth Mooney

Coach: Michael Klinger

Star performer in WPL 2023:

Dayalana Hemalatha: Although she didn’t bowl any overs owing to injuries, Dayalan Hemalatha took on the role of the finisher for Gujarat Giants and was one of the few bright spots for them. She scored 151 runs from eight matches at a strike rate of 157.29.

Player to watch out for:

Phoebe Litchifeld: Phoebe Litchfield, bought for a staggering one crore INR, was in terrific form during the recent series against India. Giants will be looking at her fearless approach against spinners and signature reverse sweeps, Litchfield adds firepower to the Giants batting lineup.

Win/Loss record: Played-8, Won-2, Lost-6

India internationals: Dayalan Hemalatha, Harleen Deol, Sneh Rana, Meghna Singh, Mannat Kashyap, Veda Krishnamurthy

Overseas players: Beth Mooney (c), Laura Wolvaardt, Phoebe Litchfield, Ashleigh Gardner, Kathryn Bryce, Lea Tahuhu

Squad: Beth Mooney (c), Laura Wolvaardt, Phoebe Litchfield, Ashleigh Gardner, Kathryn Bryce, Lea Tahuhu, Dayalan Hemalatha, Harleen Deol, Shabnam MD, Sneh Rana, Tanuja Kanwer, Meghna Singh, Trisha Poojitha, Priya Mishra, Mannat Kashyap, Veda Krishnamurthy, Tarannum Pathan, Sayali Sathgare

Prediction: Fifth