WPL 2024: Delhi Capitals, UP Warriorz seek to step up | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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WPL 2024: Delhi Capitals, UP Warriorz seek to step up

By, Mumbai
Feb 20, 2024 09:34 PM IST

Capitals, runners-up in the inaugural edition in 2023, and UP Warriorz, ousted in the Eliminator, have squads to take them all the way this time.

It was a bittersweet inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) for UP Warriorz and Delhi Capitals last year. While the former lived up to their billing and advanced from the league stage, the latter qualified directly to the final. Though neither team managed to win the title, the undeniable promise they showed puts them among the favourites again heading into season two.

Capitals finished as runners-up in the inaugural edition in 2023(Getty Images)
Capitals finished as runners-up in the inaugural edition in 2023(Getty Images)

On paper, UPW continue to have perhaps the strongest squad in the five-team competition. With skipper Alyssa Healy, Deepti Sharma, Grace Harris, Sophie Ecclestone, Tahlia McGrath, Danni Wyatt and Chamari Athapaththu in the side, they are loaded with match-winners. It’s the crop of Indian players, however, that didn’t do enough last season and could prove to be a concern again.

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Healy will head into the tournament with confidence as a leader. The 33-year-old keeper-batter took over from Meg Lanning as Australia’s full-time captain and had successful outings against India and South Africa recently. With Jon Lewis as the head coach (he is also the head coach of the England women’s team), Warriorz will hope to utilise their resources better this time around.

They may have struggled at times to find the right balance last year, but when it comes to firepower UPW are second to none. Healy needs no introduction as an opener, Deepti is one of the premier all-rounders in world cricket, Ecclestone is the finest spinner, the Australian duo of McGrath and Harris can be devastating in the middle order and Wyatt and Athapaththu are proven performers with immense experience.

While Shweta Sehrawat and Vrinda Dinesh, who was roped in for 1.3 crore, are promising options with the bat, there is plenty of variety in spin bowling with Ecclestone and Deepti leading the way. It’s the fast bowling department, however, that doesn’t inspire much confidence. With Shabnim Ismail not retained and Lauren Bell withdrawing from the tournament, UPW have a shortage of experienced frontline pacers. McGrath and Anjali Sarvani will have to shoulder bulk of the load.

The Lanning factor

For Delhi Capitals, it was an impressive first season as they edged out Mumbai Indians on net run-rate to finish the league stage at the top of the points table. At the heart of their run was skipper Lanning’s performance with the bat. The right-hander finished as the highest run-scorer in the tournament, with 345 runs in nine innings, and set the tone for her team at the top of the order.

Having retired from international cricket last November as arguably the greatest captain in the women’s game, the serial winner will be determined to go one better and lay her hands on the WPL trophy this year. With her astute leadership and masterful batting, Lanning remains the trump card for Capitals.

On the batting front, DC have established Indian names in Shafali Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues. While Shafali, despite her tendency to blow hot and cold, is undoubtedly a match-winner, Jemimah will take confidence from the runs she got against England and Australia in December-January.

In Jess Jonassen, Marizanne Kapp and Annabel Sutherland, DC have world class all-rounders in their ranks. Young Alice Capsey too can be a game-changer with the bat and is effective with her off-spin. Delhi look light on keeper-batters and wrist spinners, but overall their bowling department has plenty of quality. Shikha Pandey is an experienced campaigner and Titas Sadhu has risen rapidly over the past year or so. In terms of pace, they have Kapp, Sutherland and Arundhati Reddy as well. As far as spin bowling is concerned, Jonassen is one of the best in the business and she’ll have the likes of Capsey, Poonam Yadav, Minnu Mani and Radha Yadav for support.

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