WPL – Harmanpreet Kaur – Domestic players can use WPL to earn India call-up for T20 World Cup

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India’s domestic players can use the upcoming second season of the WPL to make themselves known on the big stage and earn an India call-up in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup later this year, India and Mumbai Indians captain Harmanpreet Kaur has said.
Harmanpreet, who lifted the inaugural WPL trophy as Mumbai captain last season, has led India in three T20 World Cups before. In 2018 and 2023 India made the semi-final, while in 2020 they lost in the final against Australia.

With the next T20 World Cup slated for September-October later this year in Bangladesh, Harmanpreet said: “WPL is the kind of platform where domestic players will get opportunities,” at the pre-season press conference in Mumbai. “If they do well here then it means they’re kind of ready for international cricket. It makes things easier for the BCCI [selectors] because you’ve proven yourself at a good level and under pressure. If we get to see good talent and performances here, then it’ll be really good for us [Indian team] to look at such players and give them opportunities while thinking of the team for the T20 World Cup.

“I think players getting such opportunities will want to grab them with both hands because if you can perform here then everyone is looking at you and your performance won’t be wasted, and you’ll get chances going ahead.”

Harmanpreet cited the example of left-arm spinner Saika Ishaque who shot to fame in the maiden WPL season with 15 wickets that earned her ODI and T20I debuts later in the same year, and a maiden Test call-up as well. Ishaque first made a memorable WPL debut with figures of 4 for 11 in the opening game against Gujarat Giants, then wore the purple cap for a while in the league stage before finishing the tournament as the joint second-highest wicket-taker along with her team-mates Issy Wong and Amelia Kerr.

“Last year we saw Saika do well and other players too who were picked later in the team,” Harmanpreet said. “Later on they got opportunities in the Indian team. So it’s a good platform for players because if you do well here, you can get picked [for the Indian team].”

As has been in the IPL, the Mumbai Indians women’s team could also create a legacy for unearthing unknown talent from domestic cricket and fast-forwarding their path to international cricket. The Mumbai set-up is known for its scouting system and their team management is banking on some more domestic spinners this time.

“We’re trying to give chances to young girls in domestic cricket,” bowling coach Jhulan Goswami said. “Our scout team is working really hard to bring them here and we choose the best for our combination and all our quality cricketers. They just need a little bit of support from our end and this platform. On any day they might be a match-winning bowler. We don’t know if we’re going to make a superstar, but we give them the right platform to showcase their talent in front of everyone, and it helps Harman for the World Cup team.”

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Head coach Charlotte Edwards was also confident about the “great depth” in their squad and was hopeful of unearthing the “next Indian star for the future”. One such spinner Goswami singled out for praise was 20-year-old left-arm wristspinner Amandeep Kaur who plays domestic cricket for Haryana with Shafali Verma. Amandeep was bought for INR 10 lakh (US$ 12,000 approx.) by Mumbai at the recent auction and will be among the spin-bowling options with Ishaque, Kerr and Chloe Tryon apart from the uncapped spinners SB Keerthana (legspinning allrounder) and Sajeevan Sajana (offspinning allrounder).

Amandeep was the third-highest wicket-taker in the Under-23 T20 series that finished late last year with a tally of 15 wickets from seven games and has taken 17 from 10 games in the ongoing Under-23 One-Day Trophy, in which Haryana will play the final against Uttar Pradesh on Saturday.

“She has been so exciting, when we saw her in the trial,” Goswami said of Amandeep. “We don’t have many left-arm wristspinners in the country. Charlotte and me really enjoyed watching her in the trials and we signed her. She can be a big star, it’s not easy to bowl left-arm wristspin, it’s unique in women’s cricket. In the future, Harman will be happy to have her in the Indian team.”

As per the women’s FTP, India are scheduled to play only two more international series before the T20 World Cup – the Asia Cup in August-September and a home T20I series against South Africa in September. The younger players will want to use the WPL as a platform to impress the selectors to earn an India call-up.

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