World No. 1 all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner of Australia and England’s Natalie Sciver-Brunt were the most expensive overseas players
She might have missed India’s opening win against Pakistan in their Women’s T20 World Cup the other day, but there is no dearth of suitors for Smirti Mandhana’s talent.
It was evident on February 13 as Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) went all out to make Mandhana the most expensive player in the inaugural Women’s Premier League auction that was held in Mumbai.
RCB paid ₹3.4 crores to overcome stiff competition from rivals to land India’s vice-captain and opener.
RCB had lined up an impressive set of players for the inaugural edition as it bagged the seasoned all-rounders, Ellyse Perry of Australia, a four-time World T20 winner, for ₹1.7 crores and Kiwi Sophie Devine for ₹50 lakhs.
Surely, RCB came to the auction with a clear plan, as the troika of Mandhana, Perry and Devine, along with England skipper Heather Knight and South African skipper Dane van Niekerk, are expected to form their core.
While Mandhana is all likely to be named the skipper but RCB has enough experience in their squad.
But it is not experience only that RCB is banking on. They paid ₹1.9 crores for 19-year-old Under-19 T20 World Cup-winning wicket-keeper Richa Ghosh, who is famous for her hard-hitting batting.
They also have India’s rising medium pacer Renuka Singh Thakur, who was the leading wicket-taker at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Mumbai Indians, on the other hand, did not let the disappointment of missing out on Mandhana as they paid ₹1.8 crores to secure the services of Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur. They also paid ₹1.9 crore for rising Indian all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar and ₹1.5 crore for Vadodara batter Yastika Bhatia.
Their biggest buy, however, was England all-rounder Natalie Sciver-Brunt, for whom they paid ₹3.2 crore.
UP Warriorz also spent big as they secured the services of star all-rounder Deepti Sharma by making her the second most expensive Indian player at ₹2.6 crores. Warriorz also paid ₹1.8 crores for England’s star left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone, who could be more than handy in Indian conditions.
They also paid ₹1.4 crore each for Australia’s Tahlia McGrath, who currently sits atop the ICC T20I batting ranking, and all-rounder Devika Vaidya. They also secured South Africa’s all-time leading wicket-taker, Shabnim Ismail, for ₹1 crore.
Hoping to recreate the dream run of their men’s team in their IPL debut last season, Gujarat Giants also left no stone unturned to pay ₹3.2 crores to Australia’s Ashleigh Gardner, who leads the ICC Women’s T20 all-rounder ranking. Giants also paid ₹2 crore for Australian Beth Mooney.
Apart from Gardner, the Giants will bank on the local talents of Harleen Deol, Sneh Rana, Sabbineni Meghana, Dayalan Hemalatha and Sushma Verma, with Deandra Dottin, the former West Indies hard hitter, expected to give them firepower at the top.
Delhi Capitals put their fate on India’s generation next as they shell out ₹2.2 crores for highly talented Jemimah Rodrigues, who boosted her case with a match-defining half-century against Pakistan in their World T20 opener, and ₹2 crores for India’s U-19 T20 World Cup winning skipper Shafali Verma.
Despite a young line-up that includes Taniyaa Bhatia, Radhav Yadav and Titas Sadhu, among others, the Capitals will also pin their hope on the experience of Australian skipper Meg Lanning and Indian veteran Shikha Pandey, along with South Africa’s Marizanne Kapp.