As one of the two new teams in the Women’s Premier League set-up without the base of the Indian Premier League experience, UP Warriorz (yes, with a ‘z’) ended up assembling a rather well balanced squad.
In Deepti Sharma, they managed to land an Uttar Pradesh-born cricketer (though she plays for Bengal) and it was no surprise on many counts. When the league moves to a home-away format eventually, they have one of the best Indian internationals in their squad and the local connect is sorted too.
In Alyssa Healy, they managed to land arguably the best big-match player in the game and went one step ahead to name her the captain too. Having led Australia recently in Meg Lanning’s absence, Healy is well equipped to lead the side and Sharma could possibly be groomed for later seasons as her deputy.
In Sophie Ecclestone and Tahlia McGrath, they have two superstar overseas players (and we’d go as far as saying two of the best allrounders in the game if the English bowler continues her batting rise).
We have seen in the IPL last season that being a new franchise to the league cricket set-up is not exactly a deterrent, and before the season begins, that Warriorz squad looks like a group of players capable of repeating the Gujarat Titans’ feat last year.
|Player name||Country||State Association||Age||Specialism||C/U/A||Reserve Price Rs Lakh||Bid (In Rs Lakh)|
|Shabnim Ismail||South Africa||34||Bowler||Capped||40||100|
Ideal playing XI
Alyssa Healy (C &WK), Shweta Sehrawat, Tahlia McGrath, Kiran Navgire, Deepti Sharma, Devika Vaidya, Grace Harris or Shabnim Ismail, Sophie Ecclestone, Anjali Sarvani, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, S Yashasri or Parshavi Chopra
This is a really tricky one and we have to go with a couple of possibilities in there.
Healy, McGrath and Ecclestone are the first three overseas names on the teamsheet but Warriorz have a tough job in picking their fourth. Grace Harris is one of the most destructive middle-order batters in the game going around, a skill-set that is rare to find in an Indian cricketer right now. On the other hand, South Africa’s Shabnim Ismail is one of the all-time great pacers. It might well come down to what the think-tank feel about the talents of Sarvani and Yashashri, two Indian pacers who, if they click, could enable the franchise to go with the destructive batting potential of Harris. And given the relative lack of batting depth in the XI otherwise, Harris seems like an essential pick in the XI to start off.
The Indian contingent nearly picks itself, with Sehrawat possibly standing to gain a lot of insight opening the batting with one of the best in the world. Kiran Navgire impressed in the Women’s T20 Challenge right away but has since struggled to make an impact in the chances she has received at the top level. If she can get going from the word go, watch out.
Meet Parshavi Chopra, India’s U-19 star who was inspired by Shane Warne to take up leg spin
Most valuable player
McGrath is one of the premier allrounders going around in world cricket, and her role with the bat will be more important for UPW than the ball. She hasn’t exactly been bowling regularly for Australia either but is more than capable of stepping in if needed in an otherwise spin-heavy squad.
The UP Warriorz side will have England women’s head coach Jon Lewis at the helm. They appointed Anju Jain as the assistant coach, while former Australian cricketers Ashley Noffke is the bowling coach and 4-time World Champion Lisa Sthalekar is the team’s mentor.
Lewis, in his brief time with the England squad, has unlocked a higher batting ceiling so we could expect some fireworks from this group. In Sthalekar, we might have the mentor in the league who watches the most women’s cricket around the world and her knowledge is set to be vital. Noffke has been an integral part of the Aussie machinery and Jain has plenty of experience. It is another solid coaching unit.
Asked how she’d like this current squad of UP Warriorz to approach each game, former India captain Jain said, “I think that you should ask Jon this question but yeah, I think that, he made it very clear that we have to be aggressive. That’s going to be how we’re going to approach each game by being positive and very aggressive in all the games.”
Strengths and weaknesses
In Deepti Sharma and Sophie Ecclestone, UPW has – in my book – the best spin duo in the entire league. The first ever Indian bowler to take 100 T20I wickets and the world No 1 in white-ball women’s cricket, they will give eight overs of bankable spin in every match should they remain fit. That too in Indian conditions, which is likely to be gold dust especially later on in the tournament.
The three Aussies in the squad are all genuine match-winners on their day, and it gives the squad plenty of superstar potential.
In fact, for a large part of the auction it looked like the Warriorz might end up with one of the strongest squads but they let that slip somewhat towards the back-end, crippling themselves with a lack of funds to pick up some bargains. In a short-term tournament, the playing XI is perhaps the most important thing and they have that sorted but should the need arise for Plan B’s, they might struggle.
The pace-bowling department could be a problem too if they choose to not play Ismail.
|MATCH NO.||DAY||Date||Match||Timing IST||Venue|
|3||Sun||5-Mar-23||UPW vs GG||7:30 PM||DY Patil Stadium|
|5||Tue||7-Mar-23||DC vs UPW||7:30 PM||DY Patil Stadium|
|8||Fri||10-Mar-23||RCB vs UPW||7:30 PM||Brabourne - CCI|
|10||Sun||12-Mar-23||UPW vs MI||7:30 PM||Brabourne - CCI|
|13||Wed||15-Mar-23||UPW vs RCB||7:30 PM||DY Patil Stadium|
|15||Sat||18-Mar-23||MI vs UPW||3:30 PM||DY Patil Stadium|
|17||Mon||20-Mar-23||GG vs UPW||3:30 PM||Brabourne - CCI|
|20||Tue||21-Mar-23||UPW vs DC||7:30 PM||Brabourne - CCI|