WPL: Sania Mirza joins Royal Challengers Bangalore as team mentor
Ben Sawyer has been appointed head coach while Malolan Rangarajan and VR Vanitha are also part of the coaching staff
Sania Mirza has been roped in as mentor of Royal Challengers Bangalore for the inaugural Women's Premier League (WPL), to be played in Mumbai from March 4 to 26.
On Wednesday, the franchise also announced the signing of Australian Ben Sawyer as head coach. Sawyer is the head coach of New Zealand Women and was part of the Women's World Cup-winning side with Australia last year as the assistant coach.
Malolan Rangarajan, the former Tamil Nadu offspinner and lead talent scout, has been named assistant coach, while VR Vanitha, the former India batter, will come onboard as fielding coach.
They have also brought on board RX Murali as a power-hitting coach. Murali has built up an excellent body of work locally in Bengaluru, having helped train several Karnataka players, Mayank Agarwal among the more prominent names in recent times.
Sania Mirza 'excited' to work on the mental aspects with young Indian talent
Mirza, the first Indian woman to win a major title - she finished with six across women's doubles and mixed doubles - is expected to join the squad following the conclusion of the ATP Dubai Open, which is likely to be her last professional tournament. Mirza, 36, announced her decision to retire from professional tennis prior to the Australian Open, where she and her partner Rohan Bopanna finished runners-up in the mixed doubles.
"I was a little surprised [at being offered a mentorship role], but I was really excited," Mirza told RCB TV. "I want to make young girls believe sport can be one of the first career choices for them. I want to help the next generation into believing in themselves no matter how much the odds are against you, you can achieve your goals."
Mirza was particularly enthused about working with the younger Indian players and helping them deal with pressure. "The mental aspect of it is something I look forward to working with the younger girls," she said. "I feel I can [help] bring in the mental steadiness, the mental belief, I can talk of the experiences I've had over 20 years of playing. Being the only [Indian] woman doing it for so many years has been lonely, but the pressure has been high, that kind of stuff is something I can truly help with."
Royal Challengers put together a star-studded line-up at the inaugural auction, headlined by Smriti Mandhana, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Sophie Devine, Dane van Niekerk and Richa Ghosh.
The team will open its WPL campaign on March 5, the second day of the tournament, against Delhi Capitals at Brabourne Stadium.