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WPL Auction: High-ranking T20I stars selected on life-changing day

Women's Premier League T20

By Daniel Beswick

Hit For Six!

High-ranking batters and all-rounders dominated the inaugural WPL Auction, with India's star opener Smriti Mandhana earning the biggest payday.

Royal Challengers Bangalore splashed INR 3.4 crores on the third highest-ranked batter on the MRF Tyres ICC Women's T20I rankings, with another 86 players earning a spot in the inaugural edition of the competition.

Here’s how the teams are placed, with players placed prominently in the ICC Rankings particularly attractive to teams. 

Delhi Capitals

The Capitals went with the trend of going batter and all-rounder heavy in the opening blows, first signing up No.5-ranked batter Meg Lanning (1.1cr), who will also be a candidate to take up the captaincy role in the team.

They waited for South Africa ace Marizanne Kapp (No.18 ranked all-rounder) in a shrewd 1.5cr pick-up, before signing Jemimah Rodrigues (11th-ranked batter) to a 2.2cr payday after her match-winning innings against Pakistan.

Jess Jonassen (21st-ranked all-rounder) was also a smart late pickup.

Off the back of an ICC Under-19 T20 World Cup victory, 10th-ranked batter Shafali Verma (2cr) was a straightforward selection, and is joined by another young-gun – England's Alice Capsey (75 lakh) – who should complete the top four of their batting order.

Capsey, who currently sits at 38th in the batters' rankings, scurried up from 53rd in the latest update, starting with a Player of the Match performance in England's win over Ireland at the ongoing ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023 hours after the auction.

Others included Shikha Pandey (ranked 81st after missing a host of international action) and Radha Yadav (27th), while Poonam Yadav, now out of the international fold, was a late selection after going unsold the first time her name came up.

U19 T20 World Cup hero Titas Sadhu was also picked up, and Delhi were also the only player to pull the trigger on the Associate Player spot, electing for American left-arm quick Tara Norris.

Norris was born in Philadelphia, but has extensive English domestic experience, and boasts admirable numbers from The Hundred.

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Gujarat Giants

Gujarat’s modus operandi of signing all-rounders was shown in their first pick, forking out 3.2cr for No.1 ranked Australian star Ashleigh Gardner, who admitted she had vivid dreams of the auction playing out in her sleep in the lead-up to the event.

West Indies' Deandra Dottin, in spite calling time on her international career, went for 60 lakh.

Other internationally capped all-rounders Harleen Deol (106th bowler), Annabel Sutherland (116th all-rounder) and Sneh Rana (48th ranked all-rounder) join the group, with Australian leg-spinner Georgia Wareham also capable with bat in hand.

Second-ranked batter Beth Mooney's stability with the bat compliments the likes of Sophia Dunkley (13th) and Sabbineni Meghana (135th).

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Mumbai Indians

Harmanpreet Kaur (12th-ranked batter) headlined MI’s spend, picking up for 1.8cr in the first round of players and destined to lead the team. International teammate and future star Yastika Bhatia also joined after bagging a 1.5cr bid.

West Indies skipper Hayley Matthews (third-ranked all-rounder) went unsold at the first time of asking, but then claimed a bid of 40 lakh. She joined a host of all-rounders in Mumbai Indians.

Nat Sciver-Brunt (sixth all-rounder) was the most expensive of the group, going for 3.2cr, with Amelia Kerr (fourth-ranked) a bargain pick-up all things considered at 1cr.

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Domestic starlet Pooja Vastrakar (1.9cr), while Chloe Tryon (27th) and Australia’s Heather Graham both went for 30 lakh apiece.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Splashing the cash early for Mandhana among multiple winning bids, viewers at one point would have wondered just how RCB would build a team that fit under the 12cr purse.

After the left-hander, RCB snapped up Ellyse Perry (10th all-rounder), Renuka Singh (12th bowler) and Richa Ghosh (36th batter), to form a strong core.

They were shrewd with the rest of their purchases to come away with a star-studded team, also comprising New Zealand's Sophie Devine (fifth-ranked all-rounder for 50L), England's Heather Knight (32nd-ranked batter for 40L) and Megan Schutt (fifth-bowler for 40L).

Schutt faced a nervous wait after being unsold the first time her name came out, only for RCB to come in at the 11th hour, while South Africa veteran Dane van Niekerk was able to put a tumultuous week behind her.

UP Warriorz

The dynamic of wicket-keeping selections played out in fascinating circumstances with Australia's Alyssa Healy, arguably the No.1 wicket-keeper available and the seventh-ranked T20I batter, being picked up for a bargain of 70 lakh.

The Warriorz leaned into the bowling side of things more than other teams, pulling the trigger on speedster Shabnim Ismail (eighth-ranked bowler for 1cr) and tall England quick Lauren Bell (82nd).

Rajeshwari Gayakwad (66th) was picked up for 40 lakh in a round of spinners that teams were shy to select, though she was joined by fellow spinner and world No.1 T20I bowler Sophie Ecclestone.

Tahlia McGrath (No.1-ranked batter, 11th all-rounder) joined the team alongside India internationals Deepti Sharma (fourth bowler, second all-rounder) and Devika Vaidya (84th all-rounder), while hard-hitting Grace Harris, still finding her spot in the Australian team, was also added to the mix.

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