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T20 World Cup: Learn From Loss, Build With WPL, and Keep a Firm Eye on Future 

Harmanpreet Kaur's Indian team were knocked out in the semi-final of the 2023 T20 World Cup by Australia

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Cricket
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Yet another knockout game for India, yet another loss to Australia.

In the last 11 games, Australia have beaten India 10 times, losing just once and that too in a Super Over. They came to India to learn last winter, adapt and assimilate, hence made a few changes to their line-up to find the perfect combination and lost just the one game in the process - at the DY Patil on 11 December.

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But this Australian women’s side is a winning machine, they do not halt and do not believe in taking it easy. They are a champion side which has just gone from strength to strength, destroying everyone in their path.

Only two sides currently look like they can beat this Australian team, England and to some extent India. England has the makings of a champion side and India can threaten these two top sides on odd days.

But for India to get better and more able to defeat these two top sides in women’s cricket, they need to go through tougher battles which they have not been able to till now. We have seen India’s women’s cricket buckle under pressure and that players just do not seem to be able to perform on the big stage.

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This World Cup loss though may just be the last of that trend for India as the team has time to build towards the next major ICC event. But time they've had earlier as well. What's different then?

This Indian women's team will now have the advantage of being part of the world’s biggest women’s cricket league which is set to get underway in March 2023.

The Women’s Premier League (WPL) presents an opportunity to India’s women like never before to learn, adapt and understand the game.

They won’t get a better setting than the WPL because you will have the world’s best coaches, players in the same environment for a period of three weeks. What better than that to get better, become tougher in your approach and learn to handle pressure.

You saw during the semi-final of the T20 World Cup on Thursday that Jemimah Rodrigues did not fear taking on the Aussies. She was straight away into the game from the very first ball. It is almost as if she knew what was happening and was prepared to challenge the bowlers. This is all because of the familiarity that Jemimah had from her stints in the Big Bash League (BBL). Mandhana and Kaur are the two others who have been part of the BBL.

These women have also been part of The Hundred in England and know just what to expect in a pressure situation.

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Sadly the other players in the Indian line-up do not have that kind of exposure. India plays so very little as a team and the standard of domestic cricket is not upto the mark, hence what happens is that their learnings are limited to the biggest stage.

The arrival of the WPL will bridge that gap that India’s female cricketers have felt for all these years. Now they can compete with the best in the world in a competitive environment on an annual basis with the best international coaches spending time with them. What this will do is that it will toughen up not just the current lot but also the future players coming through the system.

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Harmanpreet Kaur's Indian team were knocked out in the semi-final of the 2023 T20 World Cup by Australia

Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues have played in overseas T20 leagues.

(Photo Source: IANS)

Till now the players were being thrown at the deep end without any warning of the impending danger of the international level. The players have to learn on the big stage and as a result make mistakes. Not being able to handle pressure is one of the pitfalls right now. We have seen that far too often and it all boils down to temperament.

The WPL will ensure that the players are themselves in situations where they have to win games, are the main anchors in their squad and the pressure will be immense. There will be a massive broadcast of the tournament, the buzz will be high and a lot will be at stake since the franchise owners will expect the world.

For some time now, Kaur and Mandhana have been managing a majority of the expectations of a billion plus people. So, some of the other cricketers have not really been in focus like the big two. Now it will all change. Not only will the likes of Deepti Sharma, Shafali Verma, Richa Ghosh be the key players for their franchise, they will also be expected to lead them to victories. It is this kind of pressure that the Indian female cricketers need to learn to handle.

But the start of WPL does not mean that the players will automatically become finished products. It will just raise the profile of the women’s game, make them understand situations better, but for that to translate at the highest level, will take a longer time.

We need to learn to be patient as the WPL is just another milestone on the journey, it is not the end of the destination. India needed a WPL to bridge the gap with Australia and England. Hopefully the gap will be reduced but for India to go ahead of Australia and England, they would need a lot more than just WPL, the BCCI also needs to step forward. Currently they are just waiting and watching, reacting rather than acting.

WPL will hopefully shake everyone out of their comfort zones and lead towards India becoming the best side in women’s cricket.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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