From one exhibition match in 2018, women’s T20 matches during the Indian Premier League are set to expand to a three-team affair spread over seven to 10 days as the Committee of Administrators wants to scale it up in order to set the ball rolling for a women’s IPL in a few years’ time

However, there is still a long way to go before a full-fledged T20 league for women, as the BCCI is reportedly finding it difficult to get good investors/team bidders, according to an official. Last year, the BCCI organised one exhibition match with two teams – IPL Trailblazers and IPL Supernovas –led by Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana respectively.

“Yes, the women’s T20 matches will be held this year also. It will be a week to a 10-day affair during the men’s IPL. Once the BCCI gets clearance from the Election Commission and Home Ministry on dates, the itinerary will be fixed,” a senior board functionary told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

The report was backed by ESPNcricinfo as well, who said that there might be only two teams but the number of matches will increase from the one-off last year.

However, the official said it would be difficult to have more than three teams considering the “quality” of India’s bench strength in women’s cricket.

“At the max, we can have three teams with Harmanpreet, Smriti and may be Mithali [for this year] leading the sides. They play against each other once and the top two play a tournament decider. It could be a seven-day affair,” the official said.

“BCCI would decide the teams as there aren’t any proper bidders who are interested in buying women’s teams. Yes, we might rope in a few good sponsors, So at the moment, the BCCI will have to pay the players, including the match fees of foreign players, along with a decent prize money,” he added.

Logistical trouble

Even if it’s a three-team affair with 14 players a side, the BCCI will need at least 30 Indian women who could measure up for a top-flight league cricket.

The problem that BCCI faces, according to insiders, is that a sub-standard A team has failed to become a supply line for the main team.

“Kindly check when most of the senior team girls have made their debuts and how many new performers we have got save Jemimah Rodrigues. Recently an India A team lost by 300 plus runs against Australia which tells you the story about our second string,” the official said.

The other factor will be convincing Star Sports to broadcast the event or at least live stream it.

There is a school of thought that women’s matches should be held at second-tier centres to get good crowds but during the IPL, to have another set of crew managing a women’s event may turn out to be a massive logistical task.

So it will either be a 4 PM match before the men’s game or a 7 PM match a day before the men’s game at one of the IPL venues.

With PTI inputs