Mumbai: In the first bilateral series on home soil since their dream run to the ICC Women’s World Cup final in England last year, Mithali Raj and Co were outclassed by the mighty Australian side 3-0. There were not many positives for the Indian team to take from the whitewash. Except Smriti Mandhana at the top of the order and some plucky batting by Pooja Vastrakar lower down, the women in blue did not have a series to remember.

But there was one big takeaway, off the pitch. The three-match series that was hosted in Vadodara showed that the fans were ready to come out in numbers and back women’s cricket. Watching the excellent turnout, aided by laudable initiatives from the Baroda Cricket Association, one couldn’t help but wonder that even if the results are not there yet, given more games, there is a definite market for the game, and this, perhaps, was the right time to start a women’s IPL.

But it is not as simple, and pointing that out was none other than Mithali Raj herself.

Speaking ahead of the T20I tri-series featuring England and Australia, Mithali on Tuesday said an IPL-like event for women will make sense only when the BCCI has in place for them a “strong domestic” setup.

“It’s important to have the pool of players, who will be qualified to play IPL kind of a league. As I mentioned (in) India A (team) itself we need quality players. Once we have those many players then it will be wise enough to have an IPL,” the skipper of India’s women’s ODI team, said.

And her point is enunciated by the fact that the India A teams named to face Australia and England in warm-up matches have not really put up much of a fight - highlighting the gulf in class.

The Cricket Board, however, is reportedly keen to organise exhibition matches for the women during the upcoming Indian Premier League’s 11th season. With people starting to look up to the likes of Harmanpreet Kaur, Raj and Jhulan Goswami, the BCCI decided to organise these exhibition matches, which can also lay the groundwork for women’s IPL.

Mithali said, “You can feed in any domestic (players) but then there will be a stark difference between an international player and domestic player. It might go against promoting women’s cricket.”

“So, I personally believe that when you have strong domestic set-up and churning quality players then giving them an opportunity in IPL makes sense,” she said.

Fit-again Jhulan Goswami, who was sitting alongside Mithali in the press conference, agreed with her captain.

“That is absolutely right, the domestic set up needs to be a little more stronger,” the veteran pacer added.

Meanwhile, India will be a part of the T2O series involving Australia and England, which begins on Thursday in Mumbai and Mithali said before the World T20, the team needs to get its combinations right.

“The team is now preparing for the T20 World Cup this year and it’s important that before the World Cup we need to have combinations right. And for that if we have to have few changes in the squad, irrespective of whether the result goes our way or not, it is important because we see the bigger picture preparing for the World Cup,” Mithali said.

She said both Australia and England are tough and there are players who have played in the Women’s Big Bash League. Quizzed how would the team address the issue of power-hitting, Mithali said that there was a need to pick players with that specific role.

“That’s what Australia has been doing since the past couple of years, they have picked up players and they know what they need to do, we need to do the same. We have power hitters – Harmapreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy. You have seen Pooja (Vastrakar), she has that ability and we need to give her more chances to groom into a good all-rounder,” she added.

(With PTI inputs)