Smriti Mandhana is elated by the fact that around 30 Indian women cricketers are getting a chance to display their skills in the upcoming Women's T20 Challenge after a lengthy Coronavirus-induced break.
The Women's T20 Challenge will be held from November 4 to 9 between three teams in Sharjah. The BCCI went ahead with the tournament despite the dates clashing with a part of the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL).
Hailing the efforts of the cricket board, Mandhana, who will captain the TrialBlazars, said a full-fledged Women's IPL is not far away and added that such a competition will only improve the depth of the women's team.
"I wouldn't say an 8 team IPL (to start with). The BCCI is going to decide that, probably 5-6 to start with," the opening batter told India Today.
"The kind of response women's cricket is getting, the kind of numbers, last year we played a series against South Africa in Surat, we got a full house. Last year's Women's T20 Challenge was watched by so many people at the stadium. We all were watching the final, the whole atmosphere felt unreal. The whole ground cheering for all the girls, it felt good. It's growing.
"If we start a women's IPL in 1 and half years or 1 year, whenever the BCCI decides to start it, it's good. I think we have to start it. It (women's cricket) iis at stage 5 out of 10. If we have the IPL, it will push it directly to 8,” she added.
"Not only in terms of popularity, it will get a lot of depth in women's cricket as we have seen in men's cricket. From the time IPL started, all the boys are ready to play international cricket. They are used to that kind of pressure, that kind of crowd, they are used to people watching them on TV.
"I wouldn't say we will get the same kind of reception from the first season itself but it's a good time to start," she continued.
Velocity and Supernovas are the other two teams to participate in the Women's T20 Challenge. While Mithali Raj will lead Velocity, Supernovas will be captained by Harmanpreet Kaur.
All four matches of the challenge will be played in Sharjah.