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Harmanpreet hopes WPL will 'cut down' the gap in talent between India and Australia

Meanwhile, Jemimah Rodrigues said the WPL would be a "blessing in disguise" for the India players following the World Cup semi-final exit

Vishal Dikshit
Vishal Dikshit
02-Mar-2023
Harmanpreet Kaur is confident WPL will help unearth young Indian talent  •  ICC/Getty Images

Harmanpreet Kaur is confident WPL will help unearth young Indian talent  •  ICC/Getty Images

India have come agonisingly close to beating world champions Australia in two thrilling knockout games in the last seven months and captain Harmanpreet Kaur believes a tournament like WPL will help bridge the gap between the two teams in the future. India lost out on a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games last year when they fell nine runs short against Australia in the final and recently lost the semi-final of the T20 World Cup against them in close fashion. Harmanpreet was India's top scorer and took them close with attacking knocks in both games, but the lower order couldn't close out the chases.
Those two losses were, however, much more promising for Indian cricket than the 85-run thrashing India received from the same opponents in the 2020 T20 World Cup final at the MCG.
"I think this is a great platform for all Indian players because we have been missing this tournament for a long time," Harmanpreet said of the WPL during a virtual press conference on Thursday. "Definitely for Australia and England the WBBL and Hundred have worked very well and after those tournaments they've got so much young talent. After the WPL we are also going to get some good talent and I'm sure the difference you're talking about [between India and Australia sides] we'd love to cut down. When you see good talent coming up, you're definitely going to make a good team after the WPL."
While chasing 162 at the CWG final in Birmingham, Harmanpreet led India's charge with a quick fifty and they needed 44 from 30 balls with seven wickets in hand. But India slipped when Harmanpreet and Pooja Vastrakar got out on consecutive deliveries and couldn't score 11 from the last over. In the World Cup semi-final last month, Harmanpreet again led India's chase in counterattacking fashion after they were 28 for 3 in pursuit of 173. India needed to score a more comfortable 41 off 34 this time with six wickets in hand but Harmanpreet's run-out when her bat got stuck just before the crease while completing a second run derailed India again.

Jemimah Rodrigues: World Cup loss still haunting us

Jemimah Rodrigues played second fiddle to her captain in both those losses; her run-a-ball 33 was part of a third-wicket stand of 96 off 71 balls in the CWG final, and a more attacking 43 off 24 was crucial in a partnership of 69 off 41 with the captain in the World Cup semi-final.
Soon after being named the Delhi Capitals vice-captain on Thursday afternoon in Mumbai, Rodrigues said the semi-final loss still lingered in her and her team-mates' minds a week after the game. Rodrigues said having the WPL soon after the World Cup would be a "blessing in disguise" for the India players.
"It's not been easy after losing the semi-finals, a few days were really tough for all of us," she said. "It took us a while to get out of it, we've still not gotten out of it. The WPL is like a blessing in disguise because it's going to help us get involved and get busy in preparing for this that it'll help us take our mind off the World Cup. But yes, those thoughts will keep haunting us."
Rodrigues also feels the WPL will help unearth promising Indian players who will make a difference in the future. "We have been pushing the doors for a very long time, we are getting there, we are getting very close. But I am sure the WPL will change a lot for women's cricket. You will find many superstars coming out from it, many leaders, or many match-winners, I would say."

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo