IPL 2018

Shocked Schutt set for T20 spectacle

Pace ace ready to return to the subcontinent for the historic Women's T20 Challenge that could lead to bigger and better things

Laura Jolly

18 May 2018, 04:06 PM AEST

Australia spearhead Megan Schutt hadn't so much as picked up a cricket ball since the end of a successful tour of India in late March when the call came from the BCCI.

On offer was an invitation to play in an historic first: an Indian Premier League women's exhibition game, a one-off opportunity to line up alongside the world's best at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium ahead of next Tuesday's first IPL qualifying final.

Schutt was only too happy to jump at the opportunity, with the Brisbane-based bowler quickly hitting the nets at the Bupa National Cricket Centre to prepare for the match, dubbed the 'Women's T20 Challenge'.

"It's been pretty quick but we all responded pretty quickly too, we didn't really see it coming to be honest," Schutt told cricket.com.au as she prepared to jet off for India.

"I don't think I've never been overseas for such a short duration but it's a great opportunity, so there was no way I was going to pass on it.

"It's humbling, to be requested for the game is awesome. To me, that's a big honour to be part of a game that is potentially going to be the start of something bigger in the future, of a women's IPL.

"So I just hope the game is a good spectacle and it's something everyone can enjoy."

Schutt continues starring role with four

Schutt is one of 10 internationals and five Australians included in the full team lists announced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India on Thursday, alongside national teammates Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Meg Lanning and Beth Mooney.

"I hadn't bowled a ball (since India) until Tuesday," Schutt said.

"Once I got confirmation that it was all going ahead I thought it was time to roll the arm over. 

"I managed to get out on the turf wicket bowling to Beth Mooney and she's back to smacking me around the park."

New Zealand trio Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine and Lea Tahuhu, and England pair Danielle Wyatt and Danielle Hazell, round out the contingent of overseas players who will join 16 locals for the clash.

They'll play in two XIs skippered by India stars Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana, Schutt to play in Kaur's team, the IPL Supernovas, alongside Lanning and Perry, while Mooney and Healy will line up for the Trailblazers.

"It's awesome to see Kaur and Mandhana are leading the sides, they're the future of that team so to give them the responsibility of a huge game is a great experience for them," Schutt said.

Schutt made to wait for rare T20 hat-trick

The women's game has rapidly grown in popularity in India since the national team's appearance in last year's Women's World Cup final at Lord's.

Tuesday's match is the first step towards the potential introduction of a women's IPL in the next two or three years. Having just spent a month in the subcontinent, where she became the first Australian to claim a T20I hat-trick, Schutt believes the time is right for a women's IPL.

"The series we had against them (India) was great and the crowds we had. Also the scores made by the teams – records were broken, some excellent displays of batting and bowling," she said.

"That will draw in the crowds.

"(A women's IPL) is something I never thought would be available to me in my lifetime, or at least not until towards the end of my career. 

"So to have the explosion of support that's coming into the women's game, it's incredible and it's only going to open up more doors to future competitions and increases the level of cricket around the world."

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 on May 22.

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