It is fair to say that the inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League (WPL 2023) was a success, with the tournament managing to provide a platform for several Indian and international stars to showcase their talent.
Team India did not have many takeaways from the competition. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to claim that there were several disappointing signs for the Women in Blue at the end of WPL 2023.
At the same time, though, a few Indian internationals used the opportunity to work on their T20 game and come up with improved performances. On the back of their WPL showings, they could become integral parts of the national T20I side in the upcoming years.
Here are three Indian stars who showed marked improvement during WPL 2023.
#3 Dayalan Hemalatha
Dayalan Hemalatha has played 15 T20Is for Team India till date, and her numbers don’t make for great reading. She has scored only 90 runs at an average of 9 and a strike rate of 93.75, with both strike rotation and consistency having been a problem in the past.
WPL 2023, though, saw just what Hemalatha is capable of as her power-hitting avatar shone through for the Gujarat Giants (GG). Batting lower down the order, the 28-year-old smashed 151 runs in eight matches at an average of 30.2 and a strike rate of 157.29, with her blistering 57 against the UP Warriorz (UPW) being a particular standout.
Hemalatha hit 15 fours and as many as eight sixes (only five batters cleared the boundary more times) during WPL 2023. If she can keep her incredible ball-striking going, she could become an integral part of the Indian side in the shortest format.
#2 Harleen Deol
Hemalatha’s GG teammate Harleen Deol enjoyed a productive campaign as well. In a team devoid of domestic talent, the young all-rounder batted in the top order and came up with stylish knocks on a regular basis.
Harleen was one of four Indian batters to breach the 200-run mark in WPL 2023 as she amassed 202 runs at an average of 28.85 and a strike rate of 125.46. She found the boundary 29 times, showing an improved range against both pace and spin as well as crisp intent.
Harleen has often been criticized for her strike rate and intent while playing for the Women in Blue, but she has clearly been putting in the hard yards. The 24-year-old is a proper three-dimensional cricketer and could become a world-beater in the coming years if her upward swing continues.
#1 Yastika Bhatia
Whether Yastika Bhatia deserved the Emerging Player of the Season award or not is another matter, but it can’t be disputed that the young southpaw played a crucial role in the Mumbai Indians’ (MI) title triumph.
Yastika has never been the most free-stroking T20 opener, so there were concerns over her fit at the top of the order for Harmanpreet Kaur and Co. But she stepped up to the plate despite a slow start, ending up with 214 runs at an average of 21.4 and a strike rate of 112.04.
The 22-year-old displayed an increased willingness to innovate and was also more eager to clear the infield, two qualities that are essential to any good T20 batter. She seems to be working on her limitations, and although her numbers at the end of the season don’t exactly jump out at you, the improvement was there for all to see.
Yastika was also tidy behind the stumps and could become a key cog in the Indian T20I wheel.