As the anticipation mounts, 165 cricketing talents, a fusion of Indian and overseas players, are set to go under the hammer in the upcoming Women's Premier League auction on December 9.
With a captivating mix of seasoned campaigners and emerging stars, the second edition promises a thrilling showdown as teams vie for the cricketing gems to shape their squads for the much-awaited tournament in February-March 2024.
The players are categorised into 56 capped and 109 uncapped, competing for 30 available slots across five teams, with nine spots reserved for overseas talents, make it an exciting dynamic to the auction.
Garth, who replaced Dottin in the Gujarat Giants squad, is back on the list after being released in the off-season. Capped Indian players like Veda Krishnamurthy, Meghna Singh, S Meghana, and Devika Vaidya are set to make waves, while overseas stars such as Dottin, Shabnim Ismail, and Chamari Athapaththu are also in the spotlight.
WPL to return in Feb-March
The Women's Premier League, following a successful first season, is primed for a return in February-March 2024, preceding the Men's Indian Premier League. The Mumbai Indians, led by Harmanpreet Kaur, clinched victory in the inaugural season, defeating Delhi Capitals in the final.
Top players to watch out for in auction
Among the players in this year's auction, Aussies Annabel Sutherland and Georgia Wareham, English keeper Amy Jones, and South African pacer Shabnim Ismail stand out with a base price of Rs 40 lakhs. The spotlight is also on Sri Lankan star Chamari Athapaththu, who, despite a base price of INR 30 lakhs in the previous edition, is expected to be a hot pick after her stellar performances in 2023.
Athapaththu's standout performances in various formats, including the Women's Big Bash League, Women's Hundred, and Women's Caribbean Premier League, make her a strong contender for the most expensive pick in the upcoming auction. With a compelling mix of established and emerging talents, the Women's Premier League auction promises an exciting lineup for the upcoming season.
"A maximum of 30 slots are available with the five teams, with nine spots for overseas players, the BCCI release stated.
Athapaththu in the spotlight
Despite having a base price of INR 30 lakh - that is, the lowest bracket for overseas players - Athapaththu found no takers in the inaugural WPL auction. Subsequently, she did not find a place in the Women's Hundred, the Women's Big Bash League or the Women's Caribbean Premier League either. But the Sri Lanka captain showed what teams were missing out on with a stellar show in 2023.
Athapaththu starred with two unbeaten centuries in Sri Lanka's first-ever ODI series win against New Zealand, scored an unbeaten 47-ball 80 for their first win in a T20I against New Zealand and then led the charge in their first T20I series win over England in September. Her outstanding batting form meant a late call-up from Sydney Thunder for the 2023 WBBL as an injury replacement.
She took the WBBL by storm and finished with 552 runs - the second-most in the season - at a strike rate of 127.18 and with the Player of the Series award no less. She also returned nine wickets with the ball at an economy rate of just under seven. Expect her to be the most expensive pick at the WPL auction.
Annabel Sutherland set for big payday
Annabel Sutherland, the Australian played four matches in WPL 2023, scored only 28 runs and picked up three wickets with an economy rate of 10.99, before being released by Gujarat Giants. She turned her form around in the women's Ashes, scoring her maiden Test century in Australia's win in Nottingham before picking up 3 for 28 in a narrow T20I loss against England at The Oval.
Sutherland's 47-ball 50 batting at No. 7 proved crucial in Australia's only ODI win of the multi-format Ashes. She then flourished in the 2023 WBBL, scoring 288 runs - the most for Melbourne Stars - and picking up 23 wickets, joint third-most for the season. She also led Stars for the last three games of the season in Meg Lanning's absence.
Shabnim Ismail (South Africa) intense bidding saw UP Warriorz pick up Ismail for INR 1 crore at the last auction. But after just three games in the season, she finds herself back in the auction pool this year. The fiery South Africa fast bowler, who retired from internationals earlier this year, showed her wares at the Women's Hundred, the WCPL and the WBBL.
She picked up 11 wickets in the Women's Hundred, including a hat-trick in the last over that helped Welsh Fire eke out a narrow win over Birmingham Phoenix. She prevented Phoenix from scoring four off the last three balls with nine wickets in hand, one game after her three-for had skittles Oval Invincibles for 80.
Ismail also picked up 13 wickets for Hobart Hurricanes in the WBBL, after a four-for for Guyana Amazon Warriors in the WCPL final.
The five franchises, Delhi Capitals, Mumbai Indians, Gujarat Giants, UP Warriorz and Royal Challengers Bangalore will be there to pick the best.