Indian vice-captain Smriti Mandhana (Rs 3.4 crore) and Australian all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner (Rs 3.2 crore) were the top buys of the auction for the inaugural Women's Premier League, that starts on 4 March in Mumbai. However, there were a few key players who seemed to have gone under the radar of most teams, and were picked for their base price. Players who could prove very important to the campaigns of their new teams.
Here is a look at the steal deals from the WPL auction 2023.
Kiran Navgire (bought by UP Warriorz at base price of Rs 30 lakh)
The franchise cricket model demands specialist hitters, and the Maharashtra-born batter is a proven hard hitter. She had smashed an unbeaten 162 for Nagaland against Arunachal Pradesh in the Senior Women's T20 Trophy in 2021-22 and is the only Indian cricketer to score over 150 in a T20 match. The right-hander also scored the fastest fifty (24 balls) of the Women's T20 Challenge, representing Velocity, in the last edition in 2022.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad (bought by UP Warriorz at base price of Rs 40 lakh)
The slow left-arm orthodox bowler is a gem in a T20 side for her ability to choke the runs. Gayakwad is from the class of 2017, the side that finished runners-up in the ODI World Cup. She had recorded the best bowling figures (5/15 against New Zealand) by an Indian in the Women's Cricket World Cup history. In T20Is, the Karnataka cricketer has 15 wickets in 16 outings at an economy of 6.10 in India. Overall, 58 wickets in 52 games at an economy of 6.17.
Poonam Yadav (bought by Delhi Capitals at base price of Rs 30 lakh)
Leg-spinners have shone in the shortest format of the game. Amit Mishra (166), Yuzvendra Chahal (166) and Piyush Chawla (157) figure in the top five wicket-takers in the IPL. And with 98 scalps in 72 games, Yadav has enough numbers to prove her credentials. She has been out of favour in the international setup since February 2022, but the economy of 5.75 augurs well for the Capitals. The batters have been clueless against her wrong 'uns and the loopy leg breaks; 18 out of the 98 scalps have been stumping dismissals.
Titas Sadhu (bought by Delhi Capitals for Rs 25 lakh; base price Rs 10 lakh)
Young and fresh from the U-19 World Cup success, the fast bowler from Bengal could be the next Jhulan Goswami. Titas has been a sprinter and a swimmer before taking up cricket, and her energy can be a breath of fresh air in any T20 side. The youngster returned 2/6 in the U-19 final against England and bagged the Player of the Match award. She can swing the ball both ways and is currently working on perfecting the yorkers to stand out in the WPL.
Sophie Devine (bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore at base price of Rs 50 lakh)
In early 2020, the New Zealand skipper became the first batter to smash five fifty-plus scores in T20I cricket. In India, her strike rate reads 172.09. One of the leading all-rounders in the world, Devine's seam bowling fetched her 110 wickets in 117 outings. The best figures of 4/22 came against the West Indies in the semi-final of the World T20 in 2016 in Mumbai. The slower deliveries and the cutters can be effective in the WPL.
Megan Schutt (bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore at base price of Rs 40 lakh)
In January 2023, the right-arm fast bowler from Australia recorded her best bowling figure of 5/15 in the T20I against Pakistan in Sydney. And this week, she dismissed Suzie Bates and Devine in her first over at the Women's T20 World Cup opener against New Zealand to return 2/8 in two overs. A senior player in the T20 circles, Schutt has 116 wickets in 91 games for Australia. Inswingers and leg cutters have been the stock balls for the Aussie quick.
Sophia Dunkley (bought by Gujarat Giants for Rs 60 lakh; base price Rs 30 lakh)
England opener Dunkley's consecutive fifties in the T20 World Cup warm-up matches did not raise her stakes at the auctions. But the flamboyant opener will be an asset to the Gujarat franchise for her role in the powerplay. The right-hander's 19-ball 59 in the warm-up game against South Africa in Stellenbosch underlined her skills. She batted at a strike rate of 310.52 in that game.
Deandra Dottin (bought by Gujarat Giants for Rs 60 lakh; base price Rs 50 lakh
West Indies legend Dottin's experience will help Gujarat in the WPL. The star all-rounder has 2,697 T20I runs with two centuries under her belt. She scored the fastest ton in women's T20 cricket, off 38 balls, against South Africa in World T20 2010. Dottin is a seasoned seam bowler with the best figures of 5/5 recorded against Bangladesh in the T20 World Cup in 2018.