New Delhi: The experimental Women's T20 ahead of IPL play-offs did not attract a sizeable crowd but CoA member Diana Edulji insists the one-off game was a positive step and will lead to "something substantial" next season.
There was not much crowd support for the match played on a sultry Mumbai afternoon ahead of the IPL Qualifier 1 between eventual IPL champions Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad on 22 May.
Top Indian and overseas players including Harmanpreet Kaur, Mithali Raj, Suzie Bates and Meg Lanning were part of the game which went down to the wire.
"In my view, the match was a success and many followed it on television. Yes, there were not many spectators but that was also the case during the 2016 Women's World T20 (when the event was held simultaneously with the men's competition)," Edulji told PTI.
"So, I am not so sure if the BCCI could have scheduled the game better but considering it was accommodated during the IPL, the board did the best it could. I am sure more games like these will be played next season, if not a full-fledged IPL, " the former India captain said.
Irrespective of the response, the one-off fixture has fuelled the demand of a women's IPL. Considering the dearth of quality Indian players, the league can be started with even four teams, something that has already been suggested by India T20 captain Harmanpreet and opener Smriti Mandhana.
Well, we cannot have eight teams right now, but yes,three or four teams. To start with it would be a good initiative because when the men's IPL began (in 2008), only foreigners did well in the first two seasons. Later on, we started developing India's bench strength," Mandhana had said of the exhibition match at Wankhede.
Australia already has a Women's Big Bash and England Kia Super League (UK version of women's T20 league), which was introduced in 2016.
Edulji had a long chat with the players from England, Australia and New Zealand ahead of the match.
"The foreigners were very excited being part of this one off game and they have already told me that they are looking forward to being here next year. They also appreciated the BCCI offer to get them over here at such a short notice," she added.