Women’s T20 Challenge likely to be a three-team event yet again

Trailblazers players celebrate their victory over Supernovas in the Women's T20 Challenge final. © BCCI/ IPL

Women’s T20 Challenge is likely to remain a three-team tournament this season too and could be played in Delhi during the Indian Premier League (IPL) play-offs, PTI reported on Monday (April 12).

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) started Women’s T20 Challenge with a single exhibition match between two sides, Harmanpreet Kaur’s Supernovas and Trailblazers led by Smriti Mandhana, in 2018 and was extended to three-teams with the addition of a team named ‘Velocity’ with Mithali Raj leading them during the 2019 season. The plan was to increase the event to four teams during the 2020 IPL, but with COVID-19 pandemic the tournament was again played in the same format in November 2020 in Sharjah.

Supernovas won the inaugural exhibition match and repeated the feat when it was expanded in 2019 before Trailblazers won it in the last edition. With IPL being currently played in the bio-bubble in various cities, BCCI is likely to stick to the same format.

“As of now the plan is to have three teams. A final decision will be taken shortly. There is a good chance that it will be held in Delhi. Talks are on with the leading Australian and England players,” a BCCI official was quoted as saying.

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BCCI’s Apex Council meeting is going to be held on April 16 and key decisions like appointment of India’s support staff and Future Tour Programs (FTPs) are said to be in the agenda. According to the report, a decision on Women’s T20 Challenge also will be made during the meeting.

If Australia players are signed up for the event, this will mark their return after missing out on the event for a couple of years in a row. In the 2019 edition, a tussle between Cricket Australia (CA) and BCCI saw them missing out and a clash between the event and Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in Australia, Australia stars missed out yet again along with many star international names. It remains to be seen if Australia and England players will turn up for the event considering the bio-bubble scenarios and pandemic situation in India.

Post their defeat in the T20 World Cup final against Australia March last year, India played only one international series when they featured in five ODIs and three T20Is against South Africa in March and there are no series officially announced as of now. India are likely to tour England in late June for a Test match and limited over series ahead of England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)’s new competition The Hundred.