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Feature

WPL 2024 team of the tournament: Mandhana captain as RCB and Delhi Capitals players dominate

Deepti Sharma is the only player not belonging to the two finalists to make the cut

Vishal Dikshit
Vishal Dikshit
18-Mar-2024
Smriti Mandhana and Meg Lanning both make the cut  •  BCCI

Smriti Mandhana and Meg Lanning both make the cut  •  BCCI

ESPNcricinfo picks its team of the tournament for WPL 2024 which saw a new champion in RCB in front of a sellout crowd on Sunday in Delhi. The team was selected by ESPNcricinfo's staff who closely followed the tournament and kept to the limit of four overseas players.
1 Shafali Verma (Delhi Capitals)
Runs 309, average 38.62, strike rate 156.85
For the second season in a row, Shafali, not surprisingly, finished with the most sixes (20) in the WPL, double that of the second-best. While she continued to target the boundaries to provide Delhi Capitals rapid starts, this season saw a much more consistent Shafali who also took more responsibility towards building a solid opening stand with Meg Lanning. She also finished WPL 2024 with the best batting strike rate (minimum 75 balls faced) and shone in the final too with a 27-ball 44.
2 Smriti Mandhana (capt, Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Runs 300, average 30.00, strike rate 133.92
The title-winning captain doubled her run-tally compared to her forgettable WPL 2023 and looked more assured and free in her strokeplay. Her runs at the top meant a lot more to RCB because she didn't find a stable opening partner in the tournament. She also impressed with her astute captaincy, field settings and use of resources to be named captain of this XI. In the modest chase in the final, she steered her team almost all the way.
3 Meg Lanning (Delhi Capitals)
Runs 331, average 36.77, strike rate 123.04
As imposing and imperious as she has ever been, Lanning was the solid batter at one end with a regular flow of fours while Shafali targeted the sixes. After taking home the orange cap last season, she finished second on the list this time, just behind Ellyse Perry, with another prolific and consistent season. She was as good as ever at finding the gaps on her way to striking more fours than anyone and struck four fifties, also the most, but couldn't see her side out of a collapse in the final which left her in tears at the end.
4 Jemimah Rodrigues (Delhi Capitals)
Runs 235, average 39.16, strike rate 153.59
Barring the two-ball duck in the final, this WPL season saw a different avatar of Rodrigues whose free-flowing strokes were more powerful, more aerial, and more frequent. Otherwise not known for her six-hitting abilities, Rodrigues impressed with her consistency and along-the-ground strokes, especially in the Delhi leg where the lack of bounce suited her natural game. As compared to zero sixes off her bat in WPL 2023, this time she hit eight sixes and played a pivotal role at No. 3 by shooting up her strike rate from 128.57 to 153.59 in the two WPL seasons.
5 Ellyse Perry (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Runs 347, average 69.40, strike rate 125.72, wickets 7, economy rate 6.81
The Australian hand in winning the trophy, who first confirmed RCB's knockout berth with a career-best 6 for 15, then lifted them from the pits of 49 for 4 in the eliminator and stayed not out on 35 when Richa Ghosh hit the winning runs on Sunday night. Her four unbeaten knocks gave her a staggering average of 69.40 in the tournament along with the orange cap.
6 Richa Ghosh (wk, Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Runs 257, average 42.83, strike rate 141.98, 3 catches, 10 stumpings
After starting the tournament with a bang - 62 off 37 against UP Warriorz - Ghosh was putting in blitzy performances in the middle order. Then came her stunning 51 off 29 in a high-pressure chase against Capitals to nearly snatch victory. That she led the team almost single-handedly against a top bowling attack in the second half of that chase spoke volumes of her ability to handle pressure-cooker situations. The Indian team management will hope this has prepared the 20-year-old for the big games in the forthcoming World Cups.
7 Marizanne Kapp (Delhi Capitals)
Wickets 11, economy rate 6.28, runs 79, batting average 19.75, strike rate 133.89
A gun new-ball bowler. Powerplay specialist. Swing and seam movement. Dot-ball pressure. Name the skill and she had it this season, impressing at 34 despite battling recent illnesses and injuries. Coming on the back of solid all-round performances in Australia before the WPL, Kapp thrived in different conditions in both Bengaluru and Delhi. She was the main force Capitals used early on to break through before others rallied around her. She was the purple-cap holder until the final, the only game in which she went wicketless.
She also set up a victory against RCB by smacking a 16-ball 32 to help Capitals post an imposing 194 before dismissing Mandhana and Ghosh in the chase.
8 Deepti Sharma (UP Warriorz)
Runs 295, average 98.33, strike rate 136.57, wickets 10, economy rate 7.23
One of the top India allrounders, Deepti showed a new facet to her T20 batting with a high-octane 88 off 60 against Gujarat Giants, her third fifty in a row, which nearly saw Warriorz mow down 67 in the last three overs. She struck four sixes in that innings alone after not managing even one in the last WPL.
She was promoted to Nos. 3 and 4 towards the end of the league and did the heavy lifting when some of the other international players didn't score as much.
With the ball, she got breakthroughs in almost all games, highlighted by her match-turning hat-trick against Capitals and frugal figures of 2 for 22 in their last game. She was hence named the MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the tournament.
9 Shreyanka Patil (Royal Challengers Bangalore
Wickets 13, economy rate 7.30
Picked the most wickets, did the victory bhangra on Sunday night, held the glittery purple-cap trophy and lifted the WPL trophy - all with a hairline fracture on her left hand, which earned her praise from captain Mandhana and many others. After a lean Bengaluru leg, her campaign burst to life in Delhi when she bagged 4 for 26 - all big international wickets - against Capitals before stifling the Mumbai Indians openers and dismissing Harmanpreet Kaur late in the eliminator to turn the match on its head. In the final, she pounced on Capitals again after Sophie Molineux's triple-wicket over, starting with the wicket of Lanning, who fell to Patil twice in three games.
10 Shikha Pandey (Delhi Capitals)
Wickets 9, economy rate 7.17
The oldest bowler in the Capitals set-up also bowled the most overs for them because of her experience and regularity of picking wickets. If Kapp did it with the new ball, Pandey shone in the death overs, being the only quick bowler among the top wicket-takers in that phase. Her accuracy stifled the opposition and even though she didn't pick more than two wickets in any game, she struck in all games but one and finished with nine scalps, only behind Kapp and Nat Sciver-Brunt among the fast bowlers.
11 Asha Sobhana (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Wickets 12, economy rate 7.11
A woman who wears her heart on her sleeve, Sobhana was among the brightest uncapped stars this WPL along with Tanuja Kanwar, who narrowly missed out in this XI.
Sobhana bagged the first five-for of this season - in their opening game - and bowled some ripping legbreaks for an attack that had eight bowling options in the final. She was the most economical spinner for champions RCB and bowled the high-pressure last over ahead of Sophie Devine and Renuka Singh when Mumbai needed 12 runs to win the eliminator. She conceded only six in that over and made a name with her fearless flight and change of pace that also fetched her the wickets of Kapp and Jess Jonaseen in the space of three balls in the final.

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo