Rising tide of support for the women’s game in India

The stadium is full. The ticket is over.

Australia’s players were greeted by big, vocal and passionate fans during their T20I tour of India, whetting their appetite for the debut of a women’s Indian Premier League.

The five matches were played at two venues in Mumbai, marking the first time India’s women have played in front of their home crowd since the start of the pandemic.

Only on the day of the opening match, a front-page ad for the series was released in a local newspaper and posters featuring teenage Tyro Shafali Verma appeared along highways and at bus stands in the city.

However, more than 25,000 people watched the opening match at the DY Patil Stadium, before a crowd of more than 47,000 stormed the same ground two days later, forcing the gates to be locked in the face of images of disgruntled fans from fence after fence. the now iconic ‘Stadium packed. Ticket over’ signs went viral.

The sound inside the stadium was deafening as India took Australia to a Super Over and then won.

The mood moved west to Brabourne Stadium, host of the last three games, where conservative estimates of 5000 attendees were blown out of the water.

The 10,000 tickets available for the third game were sold out in three hours, and when more seats were added to increase capacity for the final two games, they also filled up quickly.

Interest in the series is not only for a Test between India and Australia in December-January 2023-24, a multi-format competition that includes three ODIs and three T20Is, but also for the upcoming women’s competition IPL.

After years of waiting, and after four editions of two, then three-team ‘Women’s T20 Challenge’ men’s IPL finals, the women’s version will arrive in March.

Details, including which franchises have bids for the fielding teams, are yet to be confirmed, but five teams will play 22 matches, with the season starting a week after the T20 World Cup final on February 26.

It has also not been confirmed whether there will be an auction or draft of the top overseas players, but every time one of Australia’s teammates was asked about their interest during the tour, the answer was yes.

“I think everybody would (want to play),” Ellyse Perry said during the series.

“(It’s going to be) a major moment in the history of the sport, I think, that was probably threatened a few years ago.

“For it to go well, I’d imagine every female cricketer around the world would love to be a part of it.”

Ashleigh Gardner only played in front of a crowd of over 47,000 in the second T20 at the DY Patil Stadium – 86,174 filled the MCG for the 2020 World Cup final.

The sheer noise, on India’s side, was a new challenge for Australia when on the field on this tour, while they were more familiar than ever.

“It (the crowd) was probably the loudest,” Gardner said of the second T20I.

“I think that’s the best thing about India is that the fans are fanatical.

“(The women’s) game has obviously grown here in India and that’s what we want to see, the game is growing globally, not just in certain countries, so to see the fans coming out to support their players, and the Australians as well. It’s fantastic to see.” .

Australia’s T20I tour of India

1st T20I: Australia won by 9 wickets

2nd T20I: Match tied (India won the Super Over)

3. T20Is: Australia won by 21 runs

4. T20Is: Australia won by seven runs

5. T20Is: Australia won by 54 runs

Team Australia: Alyssa Healy (c), Tahlia McGrath (vc), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Heather Graham, Grace Harris, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Amanda- Jade Wellington

Team India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Renuka Singh Thakur, Meghna Singh, Anjali Sarvani, Devika Vaidya, S Meghana, Richlea Ghosh Deol

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