Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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The women's T20 exhibition games, scheduled to be held during the IPL 2019 playoffs, are set to involve overseas players from as many as six countries, an improvement on last year's one-off Women's T20 Challenge, which saw representation only from Australia, England and New Zealand, apart from current India regulars.
The overseas players - all prominent names in Australia's Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) and the English Kia Super League (KSL) - are likely to be grouped with players who had participated last year, including Australia's Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy and Megan Schutt, New Zealand's Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine, and England's Danielle Wyatt.
ESPNcricinfo understands the three teams will square up against each other in one round-robin league, with all fixtures likely to be held at a single venue for logistical reasons. Chennai, which is likely to host the IPL final on May 12, could stage the final of the women's tournament, too.
The planning around these exhibition matches during the IPL has taken over four months. Staging a full-fledged domestic women's T20 league in India - in the manner of the eight-team WBBL or the six-team KSL - however, was deemed implausible from the outset given the concerns of the BCCI's think-tank over the depth of India's domestic pool of players.
Last year, the one-off Women's T20 Challenge in Mumbai was played as a curtain-raiser to the first IPL 2018 Qualifier, and comprised two teams - the Supernovas and the Trailblazers - that featured Indian and prominent foreign players. The match was conducted as a means to test the feasibility of starting an IPL-style women's T20 league in the country. Although the game was a last-ball thriller and was telecast by the board's host broadcaster, the crowd presence at the venue was thin, partly because the game had a 2pm start.