Aussies embrace historic T20 match
Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney to face off with Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt and Meg Lanning
22 May 2018, 09:12 AM AEST
Five of Australia's best cricketers head into unknown territory today in the first Indian Premier League women's match in Mumbai.
The Women's T20 Challenge will pit a collection of the world's best players from India, Australia, England and New Zealand against each other, in what could be the first step towards an eventual women's IPL competition.
And for Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry, the clash is also a rare opportunity for the close friends to go head to head after being named on opposing teams for Tuesday's match.
Since growing up together in Sydney and playing side by side for NSW, the Sydney Sixers and Australia, they've only found themselves on opposing teams on a handful of occasions – once during primary school, and again in a clash between Australia and Australia A.
Based on past experiences, Tuesday's Healy v Perry battle could prove a very entertaining one.
"She captained Sydney North and I captained Combined Independent Schools and we went out to do the toss and both sledged one another," Healy told News Corp.
"The umpire didn't know what to do. He obviously didn't know we knew one another and we were getting stuck into one another so much that the umpire told us to calm down.
"We had a giggle and let him know we were friends — and then it was on for all money after that."
Perry and Healy, alongside national teammates Meg Lanning, Megan Schutt and Beth Mooney, touched down in Mumbai on Saturday and have spent the past two days adjusting to the heat and familiarising themselves with their new teammates.
The one-off clash will be played at Wankhede Stadium ahead of the IPL Qualifying final between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings, with the 10 overseas and 16 local cricketers split into two teams, the Supernovas and the Trailblazers – captained by India T20 skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and her deputy Smriti Mandhana respectively.
The Australians don't quite know what to expect from the match, the crowd or the conditions – but Healy hopes it will prove game-changing.
"We'll see how the fans react on Tuesday," she said. "This will potentially change the game. You want the sport to be big in India and we've seen the power of the Indian men's team and what they can give to other nations around the world when they tour."
The BCCI has said it hopes to introduce a women's IPL within the next two to three years. For Australian captain Lanning, the league would be the next big step forward for the game.
"It's such an exciting opportunity to play in the challenge match alongside some other excellent players. I am really glad they have put it together,'' Lanning told Fairfax.
''I guess the idea is to test the waters a little bit, have this one-off match, which will be great.
"Hopefully, down the track within a couple of years, it would be great if there could be an IPL up.
"I think that's probably the next step in the women's game, for that to be up and running. Hopefully, this is just a start."
Joining the Australian quintet are England pair Danielle Wyatt and Danielle Hazell, and New Zealand guns Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine and Lea Tahuhu.
The T20 Challenge will be broadcast live around the world, with Fox Sports in Australia confirming they will televise the match on Fox Sports More from 6.20pm AEST.
IPL Supernovas: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Taniya Bhatia (wk), Sophie Devine (NZ), Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Veda Krishnamurthy, Meg Lanning (Aus), Mona Meshram, Anuja Patil, Ellyse Perry (Aus), Mithali Raj, Megan Schutt (Aus), Pooja Vastrakar, Danielle Wyatt (Eng)
IPL Trailblazers: Smriti Mandhana (c), Suzie Bates (NZ), Ekta Bisht, Jhulan Goswami, Danielle Hazell (Eng), Alyssa Healy (wk) (Aus), Dayalan Hemalatha, Beth Mooney (Aus), Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Shikha Pandey, Lea Tahuhu (NZ), Poonam Yadav
Australian viewers can watch the Women's T20 Challenge exclusively on Fox Sports from 6.20pm tonight