For women’s cricket in India, and across the globe in a holistic sense, Wednesday, 25 January could be a historic day, for it will be marked by a momentous occasion. After years of discussions, perhaps at times tinted with incognizance, preparations for the inaugural edition of the Women’s Indian Premier League (WIPL) will officially commence, with the announcement of the franchises.
As per reports, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is likely to name the five franchises of WIPL on 25 January, as the nation prepares for the women’s version of the annual cricketing spectacle – 16 years after the men’s competition was envisaged.
Before that, we bring you everything that you need to know about the Women’s IPL:
(An interactive graphic will load below)
According to reports in Cricbuzz, the inaugural edition of the WIPL will see each team meeting the other four teams twice – in a round-robin format. After every team plays eight matches, the team occupying the pole position in the standings will directly qualify for the final.
The second and third-ranked teams will then compete in a one-off eliminator, the winner of which will advance to the final. There will be a total of 22 matches in the first edition of the tournament.
It is expected that teams will be allowed to sign a maximum of 18 players, of which a maximum of six can be overseas signings. Unlike the men’s IPL, where only four foreigners are allowed to feature in the playing XI, teams will be able to select a maximum of five overseas stars in their playing XI here in the WIPL.
Reports in ESPNCricinfo state that BCCI has listed ten venues for the bidders to place their bids on – although, every bidder is entitled to bid for multiple venues. Of these, seven cities serve as the home ground for men’s IPL teams – Gujarat (Narendra Modi Stadium), Kolkata (Eden Gardens), Bangalore (M Chinnaswamy Stadium), Mumbai (Wankhede Stadium/Brabourne Stadium/DY Patil Stadium – based on availability), Lucknow (BRSAVB Ekana Stadium), Delhi (Arun Jaitley Stadium) and Chennai (MA Chidambaram Stadium).
Besides those seven venues, Dharamshala (HPCA Stadium), Indore (Holkar Stadium) and Guwahati (Barsapara Cricket Stadium) have also been made available.
Seven of the ten existing men’s IPL franchises are interested in having a WIPL team, according to Cricbuzz.
Chennai Super Kings, and the two 2021 IPL entrants in Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans, are among the three teams who have not expressed their interest in the competition.
Barring these seven candidates, ten other companies have also entered the bidding war, which includes the Adani Group, who were also involved in the auction of the new men’s IPL teams. Haldiram’s, a popular sweets and snacks company, is among the surprising participants.
Prior to the franchise auction, BCCI organised an auction for media rights of the competition, wherein Viacom18 emerged victorious. The broadcasting and streaming rights, which will be valid for the next five editions, were sold for a staggering Rs 951 crores – with each game’s valuation being Rs 7.09 crores.
In a statement, BCCI secretary Jay Shah wrote “I am really thrilled that we have had such an encouraging response for a league that will revolutionise women’s cricket not just in India but across the globe. This is a commitment I had made to the Board and our women cricketers and today we have taken one big leap. The broadcasters play a key role in taking the game to a wider audience and their active interest in the league is a clear indication that the Women’s Indian Premier League is headed in the right direction.”
After the teams are announced, the inaugural WIPL auction is expected to be held in February, although any specific date has not been announced. The competition is excepted to commence on 5 March, following the conclusion of the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, whilst the final is reported to be played on 26 March.