Top 5 Key Indian Players for WPL 2024 ft. Smriti, Shafali, etc.

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Smriti Mandhana would be hoping to lead RCB to the 2024 WPL Trophy

Following the blockbuster inaugural season of the Women’s Premier League, the cash-rich league is back with its second season commencing on Friday where defending champions Mumbai Indians will face off against the previous season’s runners-up, Delhi Capitals in Bengaluru’s M.Chinnaswamy Stadium.

The upcoming league presents a golden opportunity for both Indian and overseas players to showcase their skills, especially with the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup scheduled for September-October 2024. The WPL 2024 could serve as an audition for numerous players aiming to secure spots in their respective national teams.

While many players will strive to solidify their positions in the Indian Team with consistent match-winning performances, some already have secured permanent spots and their performances will be scrutinized under a microscopic lens.

Let’s delve into a closer examination of the Top 5 key Indian Players to keep an eye on in the upcoming enthralling league starting in just a couple of days.

#5 Harleen Deol (Gujarat Giants)

Deol was the second-highest run-getter for GG after Ashleigh Gardner in the first season

Harleen Deol, an aggressive top-order batsman for the Gujarat Giants, was acquired for INR 40 lakh in the inaugural WPL auction by the Gujarat-based franchise. She swiftly proved her worth in the first season, leading to her retention ahead of the second season of WPL.

In the 2023 WPL season, Deol ranked 4th among Indian players and 13th overall in terms of most runs scored. The 25-year-old batsman amassed 202 runs in 8 innings, boasting an impressive average of 28.85 and a striking strike rate of 125.46. 

Her standout performance occurred against the Royal Challengers Bangalore at Brabourne Stadium, where she hammered 67 runs off 45 deliveries, embellished with 9 fours and 1 six, achieving it with a strike rate of 148.89.

Despite being proficient with the ball, Deol was only given the opportunity to bowl for 3 overs throughout the entire first season of the league, and that too in a single match against the Capitals where she conceded 27 runs but managed to pick up a crucial wicket.

#4 Deepti Sharma (UP Warriorz)

UP Warriorz’s versatile player and currently ICC Ranked No. 4 T20I all-rounder, Deepti Sharma, fetched a commendable INR 2.6 crore at the inaugural WPL Auction, justifying every penny with her consistent performances, particularly in T20Is.

As the second most expensive Indian player in the inaugural season, Deepti conistently proved to be a match-winner for her team. In 9 matches with her off-spin bowling during the 2023 edition, she emerged as the second-highest wicket-taker for the Warriorz, securing 9 wickets with an average of 34.33, an economy of 8.87, and a strike rate of 23.22. 

Her standout performance came against RCB, where she claimed 3 wickets in 4 overs, conceding only 26 runs.

In addition to her bowling prowess, the Warriorz’ vice-captain, Deepti, showcases adeptness with the bat, typically batting in the lower middle order. Across 8 matches, the southpaw amassed 90 runs at an average of 12.85 and a strike rate of 83.33, with her highest score being 22.

However, Deepti’s bowling assumes paramount importance for the UP-based franchise. In the previous season, whenever Deepti failed to pick up a wicket in a match, the team suffered losses in 4 out of 5 instances.

#3 Shafali Verma (Delhi Capitals)

Delhi Capitals’ dynamic attacking opening batter, Shafali Verma, has swiftly ascended to stardom, captivating audiences with her audacious approach on the pitch. Riding on her recent stellar form, Shafali is poised to unleash a barrage of boundaries right from the outset, instilling fear in opposition bowlers with her aggressive batting style.

In the recent T20I series pitting India against Australia, Shafali emerged as the series’ second-highest run-scorer, amassing a formidable 91 runs across 3 innings at an impressive average of 45.50, including a commanding half-century. 

During the 2023 WPL season, Shafali continued her batting onslaught, finishing as the second-highest run-scorer for DC and among Indian players overall. Accumulating 252 runs in 9 innings at an impressive average of 31.5, she boasted a remarkable strike rate of 185.29, the highest among all batters in the league.

The 20-year-old prodigy also notched up two half-centuries in the tournament’s previous edition, with her standout performance against RCB where she blazed her way to 84 runs off 45 deliveries, adorned with 10 boundaries and 4 towering sixes.

With her scintillating performances in the inaugural WPL season, she played an instrumental role in guiding DC to the top of the Points Table, clinching victories in 6 out of 8 league matches while suffering only two defeats.

#2 Harmanpreet Kaur (Mumbai Indians)

Kaur contributed crucial 37 runs in the finale of the WPL Season 1

Harmanpreet Kaur, the skipper of the MI and the Indian Team, played a pivotal role not only with her bat but also with her leadership, leading her team to victory in the inaugural season of the league. Under her captaincy, MI secured second place on the points table in the first season, registering 6 wins and 2 losses.

Speaking of her personal achievements in the previous edition, Kaur distinguished herself as the top Indian and the 4th overall player in the list of leading run-scorers. Accumulating a total of 281 runs in 9 innings, she maintained an impressive average of 40.14 alongside a striking rate of 135.09.

Kaur delivered three half-centuries in the first season, with her highest score being 65 runs, which she achieved against the Giants in the opening match of the tournament.

#1 Smriti Mandhana (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

Captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore team, Smriti Mandhana, boasts extensive T20 cricket experience, a factor that led to her becoming the highest-paid player in the inaugural WPL edition after RCB secured her for a whopping INR 3.40 Crores.

Despite her stellar reputation, Mandhana faced a dip in performance during the 2023 WPL, managing only 149 runs in 8 innings with an average of 18.62 and a strike rate of 111.19. Her struggles with the bat also had a ripple effect on her captaincy, with the Royal Challengers securing only 2 wins out of 8 matches.

Despite these challenges, Mandhana’s undeniable talent and recent outstanding form against Australia in the T20I series suggest that she is poised to make a strong comeback in the upcoming second season of the tournament, ready to unleash her skills with renewed vigour.