Women’s Premier League: Can Harmanpreet emulate a Dhoni, Rohit?

Defending champions Mumbai Indians to set the ball rolling with Delhi Capitals

Jhulan Goswami and Charlotte Edwards with MI players at the press conference (photo: Mumbai Indians)
Jhulan Goswami and Charlotte Edwards with MI players at the press conference (photo: Mumbai Indians)

NH Sports Bureau

The onus will be on Harmanpreet Kaur, the seasoned captain of Mumbai Indians, who will seek to emulate the likes of M.S. Dhoni or Rohit Sharma when the second edition of the TATA Women’s Premier League gets underway in Bengaluru on Friday, 23 February. In case one is wondering about the context, only Dhoni and Sharma enjoy the distinction of leading their teams to back-to-back IPL titles.

As someone who has been there and done that, Harmanpreet knows the pressure of being defending champions. At the season's opening press conference, the star batter who is also India women’s captain, chose to play it down on Friday: “We just want to do what we did last year, keep things simple and enjoy our cricket. We hope to give all the players clear roles so that they can go out there and perform. I know a lot of eyeballs will be on us this time since we won last year, but last year as well, we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves.

“We’ll try and create a similar atmosphere, enjoy each other’s success and back each other. That’s the best thing about our coaches. Their support plays a huge part.”

While Mumbai Indians will set the ball rolling against Delhi Capitals in a replay of last year’s final at Chinnaswamy Stadium next Friday, the first leg will be played there. The second leg along with the play-offs will then move to the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi. The other three teams in the five-team affair are Gujarat Giants, Royal Challengers Bangalore and UP Warriorz.

Incidentally, two of the modern legends of the women’s game, Charlotte Edwards and Jhulan Goswami, have also joined hands at the MI as their coaching staff since last year.

Recalling last year’s successful campaign, head coach Edwards said: “We picked the team 12 months ago, and what a wonderful experience it was for the players and support staff. To lift that trophy as Harman did on that night at the Brabourne Stadium, will be up there as one of the highlights of my career. More importantly, the people we did it with, with all the youngsters. It was an incredible time.”

Goswami, their mentor and fast bowling coach, was her usual candid self: ‘’Honestly speaking, this is my first assignment as a bowling coach and I have learned a lot on and off the field from her (Edwards).’’

Two youngsters who have been products of the MI coaching system — Yastika Bhatia, the Emerging Player of the Year in 2023 and Issy Wong, the first bowler to take a hat-trick in the WPL — were also present at the event.

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