Top buys of the Women’s Premier League
England’s Sophie Ecclestone is arguably the best left-arm spinner in T20I cricket today.

The build-up to the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) is very much underway. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) earned Rs 4,669.99 crore from the sale of five teams. Adani Sportsline spent a mammoth ₹1,289 crore to purchase the Ahmedabad team, making it the most expensive franchise. The other teams were purchased by Indiawin Sports Pvt. Ltd (Mumbai) Rs 912.99 crore, Royal Challengers Sports Pvt. Ltd (Bengaluru) Rs 901 crore, JSW GMR Cricket Pvt.Ltd (Delhi) Rs 810 crore and Capri Global Holdings Pvt. Ltd (Lucknow) Rs 757 crore. Earlier, the Indian cricket board sold the media rights of WPL to Viacom18 for ₹951 crore, at a ₹7.09 crore per match value for five years.

The next step is obviously the WPL auction. Each of the five franchises will have a purse of Rs 12 crore at the players’ auction. They have to buy a minimum of 15 players and a maximum of 18. Up to five overseas players, including one from an associate nation, can be part of the playing eleven. As the franchises and fans gear up for the WPL auction, we predict the Top seven buys of WPL.

1. Harmanpreet Kaur (Rs 5 crore) 

India Women’s skipper Harmanpreet Kaur is likely to be the big draw at the WPL auction. With her amazing big-hitting skills and experience, she is expected to be one of the most dangerous batters in the T20 league. Harmanpreet is also more or less certain to be captain of one of the franchises. With close to 3000 T20I runs in 145 matches and 3322 in 124 ODIs, the 33-year-old is one of the standout batters in the women’s game. She can hit massive sixes and draw in big crowds as well. It will be a bit of a surprise if Kaur isn’t the most expensive buy at the WPL auction.

2. Smriti Mandhana (Rs 4.5 crore)

Prolific India Women’s opener Smriti Mandhana is also likely to be one of the major draws at the Women’s Premier League auction. Mandhana has a terrific record in the T20I format. In 111 matches, she hammered 2651 runs at an average of 27.61 and a strike rate of 123.58. The elegant left-hander has done even better in ODIs, smashing over 3000 runs in 77 matches with five hundreds. The standout feature of Mandhana’s batting is her consistency, coupled with her ability to score at a very quick pace. For her brilliant performances, Mandhana was named in the ICC Women’s team of the Year 2022 and in the ODI team led by Harmanpreet. 

3. Ashleigh Gardner (Rs 4 crore)

All-rounders will always be mega draws in T20 leagues. Australia’s Ashleigh Gardner is definitely going to be among those who will be on top of the list. Gardner is the No. 1 ranked bowler in the official ICC women’s T20 all-rounder rankings. In 67 matches, she has smashed 1066 runs at an average of 27.33 and an excellent strike rate of 133.91. With her canny off-spin, she has claimed 43 scalps at an excellent average of 20.97 and an economy rate of 6.27. She was spectacular with both bat and ball during the recent tour of India. Given her ability to win games for the team in both departments, WPL franchises might be making a beeline for Gardner.

4. Deepti Sharma (Rs 3.5 crore)

Indian all-rounder Deepti Sharma should also be among the top buys at the WPL auction. The 25-year-old is one of the highly experienced members of the Indian women’s team. She has experience of 86 T20I matches in which she has claimed 95 wickets with her off-spin at an average of 19.30 and an economy rate of 6.09. Sharma rarely gives away anything with the ball, making her a great asset in the bowling department. Her T20I strike rate of 106.39 is slightly below par. However, expect her to make some handy contributions. Because she is such a multi-talented cricketer, franchises will always want someone like Sharma around.

5. Sophie Ecclestone (Rs 3 crore)

England’s Sophie Ecclestone is arguably the best left-arm spinner in T20I cricket today. Officially as well, she is the No. 1 ranked bowler in T20Is. Ecclestone’s T20I record speaks for itself. In 65 matches, she has claimed 86 scalps at an average of 16.22 and a brilliant economy rate of 5.90. Her strike rate of 16.4 is another proof that Ecclestone is a genuine match-winner. Being a highly experienced campaigner who has time and again proved her worth for England; the 23-year-old should also be in demand during the WPL auction.

6. Tahlia McGrath (Rs 2.5 crore)

This is a tough one between Tahlia McGrath and Beth Mooney, the two top-ranked batters as per the official T20I rankings for women’s cricket. McGrath, the 27-year-old Aussie batting all-rounder, can pack a real punch with the willow in hand. She has played only 21 T20Is but has smashed 549 runs at an average of 68.62 and a brilliant strike rate of 140.76, with four half-centuries. If she gets going, she can destroy bowling attacks. McGrath can also chip in with her medium pace. She has 13 scalps at an average of 15.23 and an economy rate of 7.33.

7. Shafali Verma (Rs 2 crore)

India’s U19 Women’s T20 World Cup-winning captain Shafali Verma should also be in contention to get a good deal in WPL. Even before leading India to glory in the U19 World Cup, Verma has been around the international scene for a while. The 19-year-old from Rohtak in Haryana is a terrific striker of the cricket ball and bats very much in Virender Sehwag mode. The swashbuckler has already featured in 51 T20I matches, scoring 1231 runs at an average of 24.62 and a strike rate of 134.53. She can play game-changing knocks with the willow, although her consistency is still a question mark. Verma can also chip in with the ball as she bowls some handy off-spin. 

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