Several India players to feature in Bangalore's Inter-Academy T20 Tournament in January 2021

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With no announcement regarding India's international or domestic fixtures since the completion of the Women's T20 Challenge, a significant number of national-level and India players are set to participate in the Inter-Academy T20 Women's Cricket Tournament which is to be held at the Samprasiddhi Sports Estadio Club in Bangalore between January 4 and 12, 2021. Bangalore's Falcons Sports club is organising the tournament to commemorate their Golden Jubilee anniversary.

Speaking about the tournament, former India captain Shantha Rangaswamy said that the idea was to make sure that the players are playing as many matches as possible. "This is an opportunity for them to get some exposure, and our youngsters to rub shoulders with some of the leading players in the country. Quite a few known names will be there," Rangaswamy told Women's CricZone.

Since the pandemic broke out, Falcons Club in Bangalore has organised two inter-academy tournaments. The Sheela Sridhar Rangaswamy Memorial Tournament in August was the first, followed by an Inter-Academy T20 competition earlier this month.

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The Cosmic Cricket Academy led by India batter Veda Krishnamurthy emerged champions in the 30-over tournament in August, and it was her idea that has led to the upcoming T20 tournament.

"As we were playing the tournaments, Veda had said that many players across the country were asking why can't they come and play here. Now, it might be difficult for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) to do it because they have to adhere to a lot of things like bio bubble and many other constraints, whereas, we can do it at a smaller level," said Rangaswamy, who is also the founding secretary of the club.

The golden jubilee celebration tournament, which had to be rescheduled due to the pandemic and the economic slowdown, was then thought to be the best stage to bring players from around the country together. Rangaswamy said they feel confident of pulling it off having already organised two successful tournaments.

"Our intentions are good. We went ahead, and fortunately, things are falling in place. The earlier two tournaments didn't need KSCA permission as they were inter-academy. This time we took the permission of KSCA because we are calling a few players from across the country," she added.

While the core idea is to bring forth young talents, Rangaswamy said that the teams will feature a few India, former India and national level players, adding, "We have balanced the teams in a way that there is good competition between them."

Players from outside of Karnataka will have to carry a COVID negative certificate when they land in the state. The necessary guidelines and COVID-19 protocols provided by the KSCA and the state government will be followed during the tournament.

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"We don't want any players to be affected. It is a challenging situation, but we have to rise to the occasion and face the challenge. Since we have already done it twice, we are confident of pulling it off. The KSCA has given us a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which we already followed in the other two tournaments. It's just an extension of the other two tournaments."

The tournament will involve four teams who will face each other twice, and the top two teams will qualify for the final. Further details regarding the squads, tournament fixtures and the players involved are expected to be revealed in a press conference on January 2, 2021.

Regarding the return of domestic cricket for the women, Rangaswamy said that she had submitted a proposal to extend the domestic season till September if required and not to scrap any women's cricket or age-group tournaments in the BCCI apex council meeting that happened in October.

"Because if they miss one tournament, they might get dejected and stop playing. Many talented players might stop playing. I think it was received well by the BCCI. I'm hoping that it will get implemented," she concluded.