The Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023 showcased an exhilarating display of skill, determination and sportsmanship, bringing together some of the finest talents in women’s cricket. The five-team tournament unfolded with intense matches, surprising upsets and stellar individual performances that left fans and enthusiasts captivated. The participating teams, composed of seasoned international players and emerging talents, competed fiercely for the coveted title, delivering a cricketing spectacle that resonated with fans worldwide.
The WPL 2023 helped usher women’s cricket into a new era.
Mumbai Indians, the first champions
Several teams stood out for their exceptional performances throughout the tournament. However, Mumbai Indians showcased their dominance with a well-balanced squad and strategic gameplay. Their consistency in both batting and bowling departments helped them clinch the maiden title.
In the final of the inaugural edition of the WPL, played at the Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai Indians (MI), under the captaincy of India women’s team skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, secured a triumphant victory by defeating Delhi Capitals (DC) by seven wickets.
Opting to bat after winning the toss, DC, led by Australian skipper Meg Lanning, faced a formidable challenge against the right-arm pace bowling of England’s Issy Wong. The star-studded Delhi Capitals batting line-up struggled, collapsing to 79/9 swiftly.
DC captain Meg Lanning emerged as the top-scorer with 35 runs, but the remaining batters succumbed without much resistance. Shikha Pandey and Radha Yadav put on a rear-guard action, scoring 27 runs each, propelling DC to a total of 131/9 in their allocated 20 overs.
Mumbai Indians’ Issy Wong claimed figures of 3/42, while Hayley Matthews, their recruit from the West Indies, bowled her four overs, conceding only 5 runs and bagging 3 wickets.
In response, Mumbai Indians, fueled by the unbeaten innings of 55-balls 60 by England all-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt, clinched victory in the final over. This stellar performance secured Mumbai Indians the inaugural WPL crown.
MI had secured second place in the WPL 2023 points table, narrowly finishing behind table-toppers DC on net run rate. In eight matches, DC exhibited a dominant performance by winning six and losing two, accumulating a total of 12 points with a run rate of +1.856. Meanwhile, MI also accumulated 12 points but secured the second position due to a slightly lower run rate of +1.711.
As the table-toppers, DC earned a direct entry into the final, while MI had to overcome the challenge posed by UP Warriorz in the Eliminator to secure their spot in the title clash. The Alyssa Healy-led UP Warriorz finished third in the points table with eight points to qualify for the playoffs.
Among the other teams, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), captained by India batter Smriti Mandhana, secured the fourth position on the points table with four points. RCB had a difficult season, winning only two and losing six of their eight matches. They suffered a run of five consecutive losses before registering their first win in the tournament.
Gujarat Giants, led by Australian Beth Mooney, had a disappointing inaugural season, finishing at the bottom of the table with four points. The Gujarat team managed to secure only two wins from eight matches, ending their season on a less-than-ideal note.
The WPL 2023 witnessed outstanding individual performances that etched memorable moments in the hearts of cricket fans. Star players like DC’s Meg Lanning, MI’s Nat Sciver-Brunt and Tahlia McGrath of UP Warriorz, showcased their prowess with the bat, consistently delivering match-winning innings.
Bowlers like MI’s Hayley Matthews and UP Warriorz’s Sophie Ecclestone demonstrated exceptional skills, consistently taking crucial wickets and disrupting opponents’ plans.
Meg Lanning secured the Orange Cap, emerging as the tournament’s top run-scorer with 345 runs in nine matches. On the bowling front, Hayley Matthews claimed the Purple Cap by leading the charts with 16 wickets in 10 games. Matthews not only excelled in bowling but also contributed with the bat, scoring 271 runs. This all-round performance earned her the title of the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
The competition also became a platform for emerging players to make a mark. India’s Yastika Bhatia, who scored 214 runs and bagged 13 wickets for Mumbai Indians, was declared the Emerging Player of the WPL 2023.
Several matches during the WPL 2023 stood out for their intensity and dramatic turns. The encounter between UP Warriorz and Gujarat Giants, featuring a last-over finish, will be remembered as one of the most thrilling moments in the tournament. The unexpected twists and turns kept fans on the edge of their seats.
In a captivating display of cricket, Australian all-rounder Grace Harris orchestrated a brilliant innings, steering UP Warriorz to a thrilling three-wicket victory against Gujarat Giants in Match No. 3 of the WPL 2023.
Chasing a target of 170 for victory, the Warriorz found themselves in a precarious situation at 88/6. However, Grace Harris scored an unbeaten 26-ball 59 and Sophie Ecclestone contributed with 22 not out, orchestrating a memorable comeback for the team.
With 19 required for a win in the final over, Harris maintained her composure and secured the victory with a ball to spare, adding a touch of excitement to the match.
The clash between Royal Challengers Bangalore and UP Warriorz showcased the unpredictability of T20 cricket. RCB, following their five-match winless run, went on to register their first win of the tournament with a five-wicket victory in their sixth match of the tournament.
Challenges and controversies
Like any major sporting event, the WPL 2023 faced its share of controversies. Injuries to key players and contentious umpiring decisions stirred discussions among fans and pundits.
The WPL drew attention when Gujarat Giants opted to replace former West Indies star Deandra Dottin with Australian cricketer Kim Garth. The franchise officially announced that Dottin was released due to an ongoing medical situation. However, Dottin disputed this claim, raising questions about the circumstances surrounding her departure.
In a contentious turn of events during the encounter between UP Warriorz and Mumbai Indians, there was an incident involving MI opener Hayley Matthews. Initially given out as LBW by the third umpire, the decision was subsequently overturned upon review, creating confusion among players and pundits alike.
Impact on women’s cricket
The WPL 2023 played a significant role in elevating the status of women’s cricket globally. The exposure provided to talented players, the competitive nature of the matches and the growing viewership contributed to the overall growth of the women’s game. The league served as a platform for the development of young talents, ensuring a bright future for women’s cricket.
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