Former India captain Mithali Raj has been roped in as mentor and advisor at Gujarat Giants, one of the five franchises set to take part in the inaugural edition of the Women's Premier League (WPL). Raj - the most prolific run-scorer in the history of women's cricket - has been one of the strongest advocates of an IPL-style women's franchise league in India, and as mentor and advisor at Giants, will also promote women's cricket at the grassroots level in their home state of Gujarat.
"Women's cricket is growing steadily, and this kind of impetus will undoubtedly encourage young women to consider taking up cricket professionally," Raj said in a media release. "I believe that the high-impact participation of corporates will help hasten the process of eventually bringing more glory to India. This level of influence can help strengthen the sporting ecosystem, and enhance opportunities for women athletes."
Pranav Adani, Director of Adani Enterprises, which manages Giants' owners Adani Sportsline, said on hiring Mithali: "Mithali Raj is a role model for the young generation, and we are delighted to have such an inspirational athlete on board to mentor our women's cricket team.
"We believe that the presence of international sporting heroes like Mithali will attract new talent not just into cricket but also into every other sport."
On January 25, Adani Sportsline - the sports development wing of the Adani Group - purchased the rights to own an Ahmedabad-based team for INR 1289 crore (USD 158 million approx.), the most expensive team that will take part in the competition. In all, INR 4669.99 crore (USD 572.78 million approx.) was spent by Adani Group, Capri Global - who bought the Lucknow team - and the owners of Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore to acquire the rights for the five WPL franchises.
The WPL is likely to be played between March 4 and March 24, a tight window squeezed out between the Women's T20 World Cup that ends in late February and the men's IPL that is set to start one week after the women's competition. The WPL auction, set for early February, will have auction purses of INR 12 crore (USD 1.46 million approx) per team.
Each team can buy a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 18 players, including seven overseas ones, of which one must be from an Associate country. Unlike in the men's IPL, WPL teams will have the option of fielding up to five overseas players in the XI, provided, again that one is from an Associate team.
A total of 22 matches will be played in WPL 2023, with each team playing the other twice to make it a total of eight games per team. The top-ranked team will enter the final directly, while the second and third-placed teams will face off in a Qualifier to determine the second finalist.