Women’s T20 Challenge: All you need to know ahead of tournament, live on Sky Sports

England’s Sophie Ecclestone and Danni Wyatt will be two of the star names on show during the 2020 Women’s T20 Challenge.

The short tournament – which will be shown live on Sky Sports over the next week – is now in its third year and seen as a forerunner to a possible fully-fledged Women’s Indian Premier League in the future.

Women’s T20 Challenge Schedule (UK times)

Like the men’s IPL, the event has switched from India to the UAE amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with all of the games to be held in Sharjah.

The three-team, four-match competition gets underway on Wednesday before further round-robin group games on Thursday and Saturday ahead of the final on Monday.

So, how does the tournament work, who is playing and what has happened previously? Here is all you need to know…


Supernovas vs Velocity

November 4, 2020, 1:50pm

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What is the format?

One week, three teams, four games. The three sides – IPL Supernovas, IPL Velocity and IPL Trailblazers – will play each other once in the group stage with the top two advancing to the final. Should the teams have the same number of points, net run-rate will determine who progresses.

Supernovas face Velocity in the tournament opener (Wednesday), before Velocity tackle Trailblazers (Thursday) and Trailblazers meet Supernovas (Saturday). The top two will then face off for the title (Monday, November 9), which was won by Supernovas in 2018 and 2019 after last-ball finishes.

SUPERNOVAS SQUAD

Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Jemimah Rodrigues, Chamari Atapattu, Priya Punia, Anuja Patil, Radha Yadav, Taniya Bhatia, Shashikala Siriwardene, Poonam Yadav, Shakera Selman, Arundhati Reddy, Pooja Vastrakar, Ayushi Soni, Ayabonga Khaka, Muskan Malik

England interest, you say?

Indeed. Ecclestone, the top-ranked T20I bowler in women’s cricket, will represent Trailblazers for the second year in a row, while Wyatt – the only England Women player to score two T20I hundreds – will make her third straight appearance. Wyatt played for Supernovas in 2018 before switching to Velocity in 2019 and will turn out for the latter again this time around.

Nat Sciver played for two-time defending champions Supernovas in 2019 but is absent this year due to her involvement in the Women’s Big Bash League. The two tournaments are clashing with the T20 Challenge having been moved from its usual spring slot due to the pandemic.

Which other overseas players are involved?

Each of the three sides have four overseas players in their squads. Ecclestone is joined at Trailblazers by gun West Indies all-rounder Deandra Dottin, who holds the record for the fastest hundred in Women’s T20I cricket – a 38-ball onslaught against South Africa in St Kitts and Nevis a decade ago, an innings which featured nine sixes and seven fours.

Also at Trailblazers is batter Nattakan Chantam, who will become the first player from Thailand to feature in the tournament. Chantam was her country’s top run-scorer in the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup, including a half-century against Pakistan, in which she struck 10 boundaries. Bangladesh all-rounder Salma Khatun completes Trailblazers’ overseas contingent.

TRAILBLAZERS SQUAD

Smriti Mandhana (captain), Deepti Sharma, Punam Raut, Richa Ghosh, D. Hemalatha, Nuzhat Parween, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Harleen Deol, Jhulan Goswami, Simaran Dil Bahadur, Salma Khatun, Sophie Ecclestone, Natthakan Chantham, Deandra Dottin, Kashvee Gautam

Wyatt’s Velocity colleagues include seamer Jahanara Alam (Bangladesh), all-rounder Sune Luus (South Africa) and spinner Leigh Kasperek (New Zealand) – the latter plays for the Kiwis despite being born in Edinburgh and featuring for Scotland Women as a youngster.

Supernovas’ foreign players are South Africa pacer Ayabonga Khaka, Sri Lanka duo Chamari Atapattu and Shashikala Siriwardene, and West Indies seamer Shakera Selman.

Which Indian players should star?

Supernovas skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and team-mate Jemimah Rodrigues are two of the three players to have scored fifties so far. The other is Trailblazers captain, Smriti Mandhana, who hit the tournament’s highest score of 90 from 67 balls against Supernovas last term.

Trailblazers also have all-rounder Deepti Sharma in their ranks, the 23-year-old packs a punch with the bat but starred with her bowling in 2019, bagging a 4-14 in a bonkers game against Velocity. Three of Sharma’s wickets came in the 18th over as Velocity lost five wickets for no runs to slip from 111-2 to 111-7 chasing 113 to win before squeezing over the line.

India ODI captain Mithali Raj – the leading run-scorer in the women’s international game – will hope to impress for Velocity, as will a batter more than 20 years her junior, 16-year-old Shafali Verma. Verma is the youngest India batter, male or female, to score an international fifty, achieving the feat at the age of 15 years and 285 days, knocking the great Sachin Tendulkar (16 years and 214 days) into second place!

VELOCITY SQUAD

Mithali Raj (captain), Veda Krishnamurthy, Shafali Verma, Sushma Verma, Ekta Bisht, Meghna Singh, Shikha Pandey, Devika Vaidya, Sushree Dibyadarshini, Manali Dakshini, Leigh Kasperek, Danni Wyatt, Suné Luus, Jahanara Alam, M. Anagha

What happened in the inaugural edition?

A gripping finish! The 2018 event was a one-game deal with Supernovas meeting Trailblazers in Mumbai and it was Supernovas who triumphed in a last-ball thriller. Chasing 130 to win, Supernovas were seemingly coasting at 106-3 in the 15th over, only to lose four wickets for 20 runs. Still, a requirement of four from six balls looked routine enough…

Not so as Supernovas went dot, one, dot, one, one from the first five balls. Needing one off the last, Pooja Vastrakar managed to steer Suzie Bates just past the fielder at midwicket for the match-winning single.

What about last year?

2019 was equally thrilling, with the first game of the new three-team event only settled off the last ball as Trailblazers pipped Supernovas by two runs. Supernovas needed 19 from the final over but that was reduced to three from one after Harmanpreet tonked four fours in five balls. However, Harmanpreet missed the last ball and her partner Lea Tahuhu was run out.

We then had that aforementioned match in which Deepti bagged four wickets for Trailblazers and Velocity lost five for nothing before stumbling over the line, while the group stage was rounded off by a relatively convincing 12-run win for Supernovas over Velocity.

Supernovas posted 142-3 off the back of Rodrigues’ unbeaten 77 and Velocity finished on 130-3 as Wyatt top-scored with 43 from 33 balls. Yet Velocity were still happy as they knew that, having passed 117, they would reach the final at Trailblazers’ expense on net run-rate.

We then had another last-ball final, which went Supernovas’ way once again. Chasing 122 to win after Velocity had rallied from 37-5 to post 121-6, Supernovas collapsed from 53-1 to 64-5 in the middle overs.

A boundary blitz from Harmanpreet (51 off 37) resuscitated the innings and with two overs to go, Supernovas needed just 10 – but after a three-run 19th over, Harmanpreet holed out to deep cover from the second ball of the last, meaning the defending champions still needed seven from four balls.

Three twos in succession dragged the scores level and with one needed from the final delivery, Radha Yadav drove Tahuhu through the covers for four. Let’s hope for more entertainment like that this year.

Watch the Women’s T20 Challenge live on Sky Sports Cricket from 1.50pm on Wednesday.

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