Women’s IPL exhibition games this IPL 2019 season likely during playoffs: BCCI official

The matches are expected to have a 7pm start to grab maximum eyeballs.

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Indian women’s T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur with team-mate Smriti Mandhana. @ Twitter/IPL

Bengaluru: The women’s T20 exhibition matches, which will be staged during the Indian Premier League (IPL), is once again likely to be slotted during the playoffs as according to the BCCI, that remains the only window available for these games.

As stated earlier by the Board officials, the matches are expected to have a 7pm start to grab maximum eyeballs. “Like last year, the sole window we have is during the play-offs. But a lot depends on the election dates,” a BCCI official told PTI on Monday.

The one-off T20 between Supernovas and Trailblazers last year had a 2pm start which attracted only a handful of fans at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. (ALSO READ: 2nd ODI: Clinical India women outclass England to seal series)

The game, featuring women’s cricket stars like Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Meg Lanning, Elysse Perry and Suzie Bates, went down to the wire but could not create the buzz that the BCCI had hoped for despite being played ahead of the men’s IPL playoff game later in the evening.

“We are waiting for the Election Commission of India to announce the full schedule of the general elections and once that happens, we will finalise the schedule for the women’s games.

“A 7 pm start on days when the IPL games are not held makes more sense that staging them in the afternoon when not many people are likely to turn up again,” the official said.

The board is contemplating two formats for the women’s games: best of three matches between two teams or a round robin stage involving three teams, followed by the final.

“Logistically, and even considering the players’ pool we have, the best of three games between two teams seems a lot more doable than forming three teams. The quality of the competition can’t be compromised and that is one of the reasons why a women’s IPL can’t be organised at the moment,” the official said.

Logistically, organising three women’s games on prime time will be a big challenge and it is only possible during the IPL play-offs. (ALSO READ: IPL 2019: IPL releases schedule for first two weeks, CSK to face RCB in opener)

The 2018 IPL was held from April 7-May 27 and the entire tournament had only three rest days, two between play-offs and the final and no game was held a day after the league stage ended on May 20. The BCCI last week announced the schedule of the first 17 IPL games starting March 23, subject to the dates of general elections.

Defending champions Chennai Super Kings will host Royal Challengers Bangalore in the tournament opener in Chennai on March 23.

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