The long-awaited women’s IPL is set to become a reality next year with the BCCI planning to conduct a five-team tournament in March 2023, immediately after the women’ T20 World Cup ends in South Africa on February 26.
The BCCI’s proposed plan involves a total of 22 matches in the league, with each squad comprising 18 players with a maximum of six from overseas. No more than five overseas players can feature in a playing XI, with four from Full Member countries and one from an Associate nation.
As per the plan, which the BCCI sent on Thursday to state associations and has been seen by ESPNcricnfo, each team will play the others twice (20 matches), with the league topper heading straight to the final. The second finalist will be decided via an Eliminator contest between the second and third-ranked teams in the league phase. The BCCI is yet to finalise the length of the WIPL, but it would be wrapped up before the men’s IPL begins, which is likely at the end of March 2023.
“It will be a challenge to play the WIPL in the home and away format, because with five to six teams it is not possible to have a match every day,” the BCCI said in its paper on the WIPL, which was sent to the states as part of the wider agenda for the board’s annual general meeting scheduled in Mumbai on October 18. “It is suggested that the tournament can be played in caravan style, where after finishing ten matches at one venue, the next ten matches to be played at the next venue. Therefore, ten matches each to be played across two venues in the 2023 WIPL season, ten each in the next two venues in the 2024 season, and for the 2025 season ten matches in the remaining one venue and the remaining ten in one of the venues from 2023 season.”
How the teams will be sold?
Unlike the Women’s T20 challenge, the precursor to the WIPL, where the teams were assembled randomly, the BCCI will sell the five teams. However, unlike the men’s IPL, where franchises bid for teams in a particular city, the BCCI has chalked out two plans for the WIPL. The first one comprises selling teams across the six zones spanning India. A set of cities in each zone has been shortlisted and comprises: Dharamsala/Jammu (North zone), Pune/Rajkot (West), Indore/Nagpur/Raipur (Central), Ranchi/Cuttack (East), Kochi/Visakhapatnam (South) and Guwahati (North-East).
The second plan involves teams being sold but without a solid home base, with matches to be played at six shortlisted IPL venues: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.
The BCCI will present the WIPL plan at the AGM next week but a final decision will be taken by the IPL Governing Council chairman along with the BCCI office bearers.