A bit more clarity has emerged around the Women's T20 Challenge, which is scheduled to be held next month on the sidelines of the IPL. Some 30-36 Indian players who will take part in the three-team tournament in the UAE are likely to assemble in Mumbai on October 13 for a nine-day quarantine. This is the first clear indication of the scheduling and logistical process for these players since the announcement of the tournament on August 2.
ESPNcricinfo also understands that all three matches of the T20 Challenge are likely to be held in the emirate of Sharjah. Host to 12 IPL matches this year, the Sharjah Cricket Stadium has already staged four games, with seven out of eight innings yielding totals of 200 or more. On September 13, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had visited the stadium for a routine inspection along with the IPL governing council chairman Brijesh Patel, BCCI joint secretary Jayesh George, and treasurer Arun Dhumal.
The Indian board has not made any formal announcements on the T20 Challenge, its fixtures, or the squads' make-up since August 2. However, it is understood that along with the support staff of the three teams, the Indian players, coming in from several states with substantial Covid-19 caseloads including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, and West Bengal, are expected to reach Dubai by October 21.
The coming together of the Indian international and domestic players in Mumbai, home to the BCCI headquarters, with some 2.2 lakh Covid-19 cases reported to date in the city, will also mark their first inter-state or inter-city travel undertaken for playing commitments under the BCCI since the pandemic took hold in India mid-March. All domestic cricket - both women's and men's - run by the BCCI has remained suspended since.
As revealed earlier by ESPNcricinfo, the third edition of the T20 Challenge is likely to run from November 4 to 9 during the IPL playoffs week, with all squads put up in one hotel - which will likely be in Dubai - under a strictly monitored biosecure environment. Just like the eight IPL franchises, the women's contingent, too, will undergo a mandatory six-day quarantine at the team hotel during which tests will be carried out on days one, three and five. Once they clear all three tests, they will be allowed to start training. The tournament is likely to be preceded by a stipulated number of training sessions, most likely four for each team.
Though there will hardly be any Australians or New Zealanders participating in the tournament - a clash in its scheduling with the Women's Big Bash League, which begins on October 25, has rendered that close to impossible - representation from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and a few other countries is likely.
Last year India T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur's side Supernovas defeated her ODI counterpart Mithali Raj's Velocity in Jaipur to win their second straight title, with Smriti Mandhana's Trailblazers eliminated in the league stage.
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo