The much-awaited Challenger series, popularly known as women's mini IPL, will be held in the United Arab Emirates from November 4 to 9, a senior IPL official confirmed the development on Wednesday. Women's cricket in India has come to a grinding halt because of COVID-19 pandemic and there was a lot of criticism directed at the BCCI even though president Sourav Ganguly had consistently maintained that the three-team tournament will certainly take place which has now been confirmed by a senior official currently in the UAE.
"Yes, the dates of the tournament has been finalised. It will be held from November 4 to 9. There will be single round robin league between the three teams Trailblazers, Velocity and Supernovas along with the final. In all four matches will be held," a senior IPL official privy to the development told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
"The final has been slotted on November 9 as we didn't want to schedule on the the day of the men's final. There is enormous interest for the women's event and its only commercially prudent that it is separated from men's event," the official said.
Only last week, the BCCI has announced the new women selection panel under former left-arm spinner Neetu David, which has now been entrusted to pick the three squads. It is expected that the teams will be flying to the UAE by the second week of October and will undergo a six-day mandatory quarantine period on arrival unless the health safety rules change.
"The girls haven't had training for such a long time and they would need to be given adequate time for net practice," the source said.
It is expected that all three teams will have more Indian girls this time considering the fact that for health safety reasons, teams need to carry more players.
Also top players from Australia and England will not be available due to the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL), where they have already signed prior contracts. The dates of WBBL are clashing with Women's Challengers. Three Indian players Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur were expected to feature in WBBL but now they will not be a part of the cash rich women's franchise league.
The four matches are likely to be held in Sharjah or Dubai considering that Abu Dhabi has separate quarantine rules.