WPL 2: Happy with the underdog tag, says Alyssa Healy | Cricket - Hindustan Times

WPL 2: Happy with the underdog tag, says Alyssa Healy

Feb 23, 2024 09:18 PM IST

UP Warriorz skipper Alyssa Healy is determined to overturn the disappointment of not making the final last season

Australia women's cricket team captain and UP Warriorz skipper Alyssa Healy gets nostalgic when she remembers her visit to M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru when Indian Premier League (IPL) was still in its infancy. Back then, Healy had watched Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum send the bowlers to all parts of the ground.

UP Warriorz player Alyssa Healy plays a shot during the Women's Premier League match(PTI)
UP Warriorz player Alyssa Healy plays a shot during the Women's Premier League match(PTI)

Healy was part of the visiting New South Wales team that played some games with the local women's teams. Over a decade later, she will be leading UP Warriorz

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against Smriti Mandhana-led RCB in the Women's Premier League (WPL) 2 opener on Saturday.

A team with a star-studded line-up featuring the likes of Healy, Danni Wyatt, Grace Harris, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Ecclestone and India all-rounder Deepti Sharma along with power-hitter Kiran Navgire received additional boost recently with the Sri Lankan import Chamari Athapaththu coming on board for her maiden WPL.

Warriorz, who finished third after stiff competition from eventual champions Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals last season, would be hoping to reverse the disappointment of not making the final despite having the resources. However, they will have a problem when it comes to choosing the top-order with both Wyatt and Athapaththu available for opening and Healy also being an opener.

"To add Chamari to that list of names that we have already got was a really great opportunity for us. It is going to be a really difficult conversation for management and myself as well as to who is playing in the eleven and what opportunities everyone is going to get. They are really good problems to have and she’s in great form,” Healy said.

Roped in by the franchise after Lauren Bell pulled out due to an injury, Athapaththu was called in after her heroics in the 2023 edition of Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) for Sydney Thunder. She was also named Emerging Player of the Tournament.

Healy made it clear that she would most probably open the innings with an Indian batter. Last season, U-19 World Cup star Shweta Sehrawat and Devika Vaidya were used as openers but they failed to deliver the goods and it was the middle-order that propped Warriorz during the tournament.

“We learnt last year that we can compete. A lot of people, a lot of chatter around the competition probably wrote us off early and thought the big teams were going to run away with the competition. We are happy with the underdog tag in particular and go out there and knock off some of these big franchises and show them what we can do,” Healy said.

England left-arm spinner Ecclestone stood out in the last edition and Warriorz head coach Jon Lewis threw light on her form after she made a comeback to the England team post undergoing a shoulder surgery. "The team of specialists back in England did a fine job with Sophie while she did her rehab. She is doing fine and in good form," said Lewis.

WBBL star Grace Harris also lit up things for Warriorz with her power-hitting last season. She will again be in the spotlight this season due to her power-packed antics.

UP Warriorz splurged 1.3 crore on uncapped Karnataka batter Vrinda Dinesh during the auction last December, making her the second most expensive player in the competition after Kashvee Gautam. It would be a great chance for the Indian domestic cricketers to have Healy and Lewis in the nets to pick up things from and make an impact.

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    Shalini Gupta is a member of the Chandigarh sports team and has been a sports journalist for 10 years. She mainly writes on cricket.

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