WPL 2023 Auction
India Women’s batting star Smriti Mandhana was the first player to go under the hammer and was also the most expensive purchase.

After all the hype, the maiden Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023 auction took place in Mumbai on Monday, February 13. Five franchises featured in the first-ever WPL auction – Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Capitals, Gujarat Giants, and UP Warriorz. While 448 players were shortlisted to go under the hammer, 87 cricketers ended up being sold, 30 of them being overseas players. A total of ₹59.50 crore was spent on auction day.

India Women’s batting star Smriti Mandhana was the first player to go under the hammer and was also the most expensive purchase at the auction, being sold to RCB for Rs 3.4 crore. Australian all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner (₹3.2 crore – Gujarat Giants), England’s Natalie Sciver (₹3.2 crore – Mumbai Indians), 

Deepti Sharma (₹2.6 crore – UP Warriorz) and Jemimah Rodrigues (₹2.2 crore – Delhi Capitals) completed the top five list at the WPL auction. India captain Harmanpreet Kaur was purchased only for ₹1.8 crore by Mumbai Indians. With the auction over, we analyze the best and worst-performing teams at the WPL auction.

1. Delhi Capitals 

Delhi Capitals purchased 18 players at the WPL auction. While they did not get Smriti Mandhana or Harmanpreet Kaur, they picked up Jemimah Rodrigues (Rs 2.2 crore) and Shafali Verma (Rs 2 crore), respectively, two of India’s rising stars with the bat. Rodrigues and Shafali played key roles in India Women’s record T20 World Cup 2023 triumph over Pakistan Women, and their careers are on the upswing. 

Both players were picked at a smart price, allowing Delhi to explore good overseas options. And so, Delhi also purchased Australian captain Meg Lanning for Rs 1.1 crore and South African all-rounder Marizanne Kapp for Rs 1.5 crore. Delhi also went for left-arm spinner Radha Yadav for Rs 40 lakh and pace bowler Shikha Pandey for Rs 60 lakh – both great budget buys. The DC squad has a good balance of quality Indian and overseas players. Incredibly, even after putting together a strong team on paper, they were still left with a purse of Rs 35 lakh. 

Best buy: Shafali Verma Rs 2 crore

2. Royal Challengers Bangalore 

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) WPL auction 2023 began with a bang. They bought Smriti Mandhana for Rs 3.4 crore. She was the first player to go under the hammer and also the most expensive. Bangalore also acquired the services of experienced Australian all-rounder Ellyse Perry for Rs 1.7 crore, apart from picking the Indian duo of keeper-batter Richa Ghosh and pacer Renuka Singh for Rs 1.9 crore and Rs 1.7 crore, respectively. RCB enjoyed even better luck as they purchased New Zealand skipper Sophie Devine for her base price of Rs 50 lakh.

They didn’t finish first because they were forced to cut down on big purchases in the second half of the WPL auction. They spent Rs 9 core on five players and added up players towards the end. To their credit, they were alert enough to pick up international stars Heather Knight (Rs 40 lakh) and Dane van Niekerk (Rs 30 lakh) in the accelerated round of the auction. These two purchases boosted their WPL 2023 squad significantly. 

Best buy: Smriti Mandhana Rs 3.4 crore

3. Mumbai Indians 

Undoubtedly, Mumbai Indians had the best deal at the WPL auction. Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur was expected to be among the Top 3 three buys at the bidding table. She did not even end up in the Top 5. MI, it was, who purchased Harmanpreet for Rs 1.8 crore after backing out of the bidding war with RCB for Mandhana. Having purchased Harman for a steal, MI had a great opportunity to boost their squad strength significantly. They picked up seasoned England all-rounder Nat Sciver for Rs 3.2 crore.

Among their other big buys, they went for New Zealand all-rounder Amelia Kerr at Rs 1 crore and Indian medium-pacer Pooja Vastrakar for 1.9 crore. There is not much depth after that, though. Yastika Bhatia at Rs 1.5 crore has elicited mixed views. They got West Indies skipper Hayley Mathews for only Rs 40 lakh. However, Mumbai could have gone for a couple of more proven players. The balance in the squad seems a bit skewed, with some exceptional names combined with ones looking to make their name.

Best buy: Harmanpreet Kaur Rs 1.8 crore

4. UP Warriorz

UP Warriorz, it seemed, were clear they wanted a star all-rounder in their team. Their aim was fulfilled as they purchased seasoned Indian cricketer Deepti Sharma for Rs 2.6 crore. Apart from Deepti, they specifically looked to go after foreign players. And so, they picked up England left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone for Rs 1.8 crore, Aussie all-rounder Tahlia McGrath for Rs 1.4 crore, South African fast bowler Shabnim Ismail for Rs 1 crore, and prolific Australian keeper-batter Alyssa Healy for Rs 70 lakh.

While the abovementioned names are all match-winners in their own right, the rest of the squad doesn’t paint a very impressive look. They have filled up their squad with Indian players. Rajeshwari Gayakwad at Rs 40 lakh is a good budget buy, while all-rounder Devika Vaidya at Rs 1.4 crore is an intriguing purchase. They have also gone for Anjali Sarvani (Rs 55 lakh), Kiran Navgire (Rs 30 lakh), Parshavi Chopra (Rs 10 lakh), and Shweta Sehrawat (Rs 40 lakh).

Best buy: Deepti Sharma Rs 2.6 crore

5. Gujarat Giants 

Gujarat Giants had a bizarre WPL auction, to be honest. At one point, it seemed they didn’t want to purchase Indian players. Gujarat picked up in-form Aussie all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner for Rs 3.2 crore, Australian star keeper Beth Mooney for ₹2 crore, England batter Sophia Dunkley for Rs 60 lakh, and Australian star Annabel Sutherland for Rs 70 lakh. They also did well in picking up West Indies all-rounder Deandra Dottin for Rs 60 lakh.

Gujarat, however, failed to pick up too many proven Indian performers. Sneh Rana, at Rs 75 lakh, can be considered a good pick. They also got Harleen Deol for Rs 40 lakh, but nothing much after that. Will they regret their out-of-the-box auction strategy? Only time will tell.

Best Buy: Ashleigh Gardner Rs 3.2 crore

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