Vanitha VR and others during the inauguration of Women's Pro Cricket League Photo Courtesy: Women's Pro Cricket League Facebook Page
Vanitha VR and others during the inauguration of Women’s Pro Cricket League Photo Courtesy: Women’s Pro Cricket League Facebook Page

Far away from the madness of Champions Trophy, a group of Indian women are creating a mark for themselves in cricket in another part of the world. Women s Pro Cricket League, a-one-of-a-kind tournament featuring India Women and Karnataka s Women cricketers like Akanksha Kohli, K Rakshitha, C Prathyusha, Sanjana Batni and Sahana Pawar, went underway on June 12 at Mysore supported by Mysore University and Karnataka State Cricket Association. The league stage has been done and dusted as the tournament now approaches the penultimate stage. Western Railways (WR) and South Central Railways (SCR), who have won all the matches so far, take on the bottom two teams NFR and Kerala in the semi-finals. Vanitha VR, other Indian Women cricketers ready for pink ball challenge through WPCL

The third day of the league matches saw some thrilling finishes. WR triumphed over Vanitha VR s Royal Phoenix Bangalore who fell 7 runs short while chasing 152 at SJCE Ground, eventually eliminating them from the tournament. Tamil Nadu s Hemlatha s 55-ball 91 the tournament s first fifty, went in vain. Hemlatha also stitched a second-wicket stand of 98 with Niranjana Nagarajan. However, Lalitha Sharma s 4 for 17 and Pushpa Kiesur s 44 ensured WR s third win in a row. In the second game, SCR beat Baroda by 20 runs at Gangothri Glades. Asha Joy and Swagatika Rath s combined figures of 5 for 25 helped thrash Baroda.

Mamatha K s lone innings of 33 was the only decisive factor that turned the game around for SCR. Meanwhile, in a dead-rubber match between Skyreachers and Kerala, the latter found their spot in the semi-final as well. Akshaya s 3 for 7 and Arathi Jayapalan s unbeaten 29 (including crucial 38-run partnership with Jincy George) helped Kerala win. As for Skyreachers, there was hardly any contribution from the remaining players barring Harsha Bokde s 23.

At the end of first and second day of the league matches, Baroda, Kerala, Royal Phoenix Bangalore and NFR were the only teams who won a game each. Spartans and Skyreachers ended with no points.

Vanitha, the brain behind the tournament, revealed to CricketCountry about the players experience in the tournament: The players are very happy with the feedback so far. They are also very, very happy with the quality of the grounds, matches, team opponents and weather conditions. Luckily, none of the games have been interrupted by the rains. On the first day, the rains did delay the beginning of the tournament, but that is always a part sport. All in all it has been going well.

Vanitha was equally elated with the league grabbing the eyeballs of many: I am really overwhelmed with the feedback I am receiving through the people around. This was something I had in mind for a long time and luckily, was able to execute on the spot.

Pink-ball cricket made its debut in a Women s cricket league for the first time. Vanitha told us albeit with a smile that pink is the favourite colour of women. Her feedback was more technical today: The pink ball is moving around a lot, due to the weather conditions. It is unusual and a different experience. The young girls are enjoying playing with the pink ball … At least one tournament should be played with the pink ball. Maybe in the future…

WR and SCR comprise of stars like Anagha Deshpande, Reema Malhotra, Sulakshana Naik, Anuja Patil, Kavita Patil, Soni Yadav, Gouhar Sultana and the likes. Vanitha feels this league has helped the youngsters learn a lot from these players: Both teams have topped the points table. That was expected, since many former and current Indian players are part of the sides. It is an opportunity for the youngsters to learn from them.

As the first round comes to an end, Vanitha has reasons to rejoice as her teammate Hemlatha tops the list of leading run-scorers with a tally of 100 from 3 innings at a strike rate of 156.25. As for the bowlers, Asha leads with 8 wickets at an economy rate of 2.2. Vanitha heaped praises on Hemlatha: She played a brilliant knock today (91), probably the best I have seen. There was variety of shots and she played all around the wicket. It was more of cricketing shots. She is a very good fielder as well and is a youngster in the making.