WPL helping players deal with pressure better: Veda | Cricket

These are exciting times for women’s cricket in India. The auction for the second edition of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) will be held in Mumbai on Saturday while the Indian team, under the supervision of new coach Amol Muzumdar, is in the middle of a busy schedule that entails three T20s and a one-off Test against England followed by a series against Australia.

A still from the WPL 2023 eliminator match between Mumbai Indians and UP Warriorz (PTI)

The schedule for WPL 2024 is yet to be announced — the inaugural season was played only in Mumbai — but what the players want is for the league to grow in stature. Veda Krishnamurthy, the middle-order batter who has played 48 ODIs and 76 T20Is, certainly sees that happening. The 31-year-old from Bengaluru was involved as a commentator during the first season, but she will feature in Saturday’s auction with an eye on getting into the thick of the action.

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“The tournament is definitely going to grow every year. Whether the teams are going to increase or not is completely dependent on the people involved. You have got to give it time. The tournament has just started. So, there is a lot of scope for growth. It is just going to get bigger and better every year. Another 2-3 years down the line, the league will be more competitive,” she said in an interaction on Thursday.

Along the way, the women’s T20 league will also aim to help unearth young cricketers for the Indian team. According to Krishnamurthy, the impact can already be felt with left-arm spinner Saika Ishaque and off-spinner Shreyanka Patil — both did well for their respective franchises this year — making their T20I debuts against England on Wednesday.

“Due to WPL, you are aware of what players are capable of and how they will do in pressure situations. The transition becomes a little easier because they are experienced in the WPL set-up with the pressure and crowd. When they are subsequently playing for the Indian team, it becomes a lot easier. In the transition from domestic to international cricket, the WPL fits perfectly like how IPL is for men’s cricket. The players look seasoned, they are not agitated or nervous playing on TV or in front of large audiences. That is something we have seen and we will see a lot more of it,” Krishnamurthy said.

What improvements can we expect in the second season? “The main aspect is there’s a lot of focus on the fielding department from the Indian contingent,” said Krishnamurthy. “We saw during the first season that whichever team did well on the field on a particular day was able to cross the line. That is something all of them are focused on. That is an aspect where there will be a lot of changes this season.”

If there was a persistent criticism in the first season, it was that the Indian players didn’t pull their weight enough. Four of the top five run-getters and four of the top five wicket-takers were overseas players.

“The overseas players picked are some of the top cricketers in the world. They have experience and can adapt to situations. Of course, Smriti (Mandhana) and Harmanpreet (Kaur) were able to manage the pressure. But for the rest of them, the first season was a little bit new in terms of pressure. From then to now, there’s been a lot of growth. This season, there are going to be a lot of Indian cricketers who are going to show what they are capable of,” she said.

The constant exposure to pressure in WPL will also help the Indian team mount a strong challenge at next year’s T20 World Cup, said Krishnamurthy. “The WPL will definitely help in terms of preparation (for the T20 World Cup). It is in crunch situations that India have lacked in terms of what needs to be done. WPL matches will make you go through pressure situations. So, the next time you are in such a situation, you will probably be in a better position to take a decision and execute it.”

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