vs Jemimah Rodrigues. Ellyse Perry vs Meg Lanning
. Dane van Niekerk vs Marizanne Kapp. Brace yourselves. And it will all happen in front of a sold-out crowd at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai as Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Delhi Capitals on Sunday.
Both sides have superstar captains. Mandhana, the most expensive player at the inaugural auction at INR 3.4 crore, will be leading Royal Challengers, who look the most balanced side in the tournament. In Lanning, Capitals have a brilliant captain, who comes into the tournament a week after leading Australia to their sixth T20 World Cup title. Ahead of the WPL, she said she's looking to inculcate that winning culture
in this Capitals side.
A number of international names linked up with their respective teams just a few days before the tournament following the T20 World Cup in South Africa. While Mandhana is looking to make use of her knowledge of the Indian domestic players to put a solid XI together, Lanning said she would be leaning on her team-mates Rodrigues and Shafali Varma to handle the younger and unknown players.
Players to Watch
Both teams have an enviable mix of overseas and Indian talent. Royal Challengers have Richa Ghosh and Renuka Singh, the two high-profile India internationals. Capitals, meanwhile, have the likes of Shafali, Poonam Yadav and Radha Yadav.
Perry, van Niekerk, Heather Knight, Sophie Devine, Erin Burns and Megan Schutt are the overseas options in the Royal Challengers side, which means the team management will have some head-scratching to do over picking just four from this star-studded list. They have captain Mandhana to do the heavy lifting from the top, while Devine, Perry, Ghosh and van Niekerk will be expected to provide the firepower in the middle order. While Royal Challengers' pace-bowling unit looks solid with Schutt, Renuka and Perry, they do not have an experienced Indian spinner in their ranks.
Capitals' strong top order has Shafali, Rodrigues and Lanning, with Kapp and Taniya Bhatia to follow. They will, however, be left to choose from a largely inexperienced pace-bowling unit, barring Shikha Pandey and Kapp. However, they have the option to bring in USA left-arm pacer Tara Norris, an Associate player who can be included as the fifth overseas player in the XI. Among the spin-bowling options, Capitals have Radha Yadav, Jess Jonassen and Poonam Yadav.
Delhi Capitals (possible): 1 Shafali Verma, 2 Jemimah Rodrigues, 3 Meg Lanning (capt), 4 Marizanne Kapp, 5 Laura Harris, 6 Jasia Akhter, 7 Taniya Bhatia (wk), 8 Jess Jonassen, 9 Radha Yadav, 10 Shikha Pandey, 11 Tara Norris
Royal Challengers Bangalore (possible): 1 Smriti Mandhana (capt), 2 Disha Kasat, 3 Sophie Devine, 4 Ellyse Perry, 5 Dane van Niekerk, 6 Richa Ghosh (wk), 7 Komal Zanzad/Asha Shobhana, 8 Preeti Bose, 9 Megan Schutt, 10 Renuka Singh, 10 Kanika Ahuja/Shreyanka Patil
Stats and trivia Perry had finished as the second-highest run-scorer during Australia's T20I series tour of India in December 2022 Mandhana has scored 831 runs, the most in women's T20Is since January 2022 This game will have three key players who were part of India's U-19 winning World Cup squad: Shafali, Titas Sadhu and Ghosh.
"I love winning, I'm very competitive and I'm coming here to try and help Delhi win as many games as possible. It would be great [to win], every team is probably thinking the same thing but we're doing our best, and the biggest challenge is to bring everybody together and making sure we're working as a team."
Delhi Capitals captain Meg Lanning on how she wants to lead the new side
"I just don't like the kind of comparison because what he has achieved is amazing, and I hope that I can reach that level. But I'm nowhere near him. What he has achieved for this franchise, I'd like to try and do that."
Royal Challengers captain Smriti Mandhana wants to emulate Virat Kohli's success with the franchise
Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo