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Feature

Seven lesser-known cricketers who could be gamechangers at the WPL

The WPL is set to create future superstars, and these set of players have the potential to play important roles for their sides

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
28-Feb-2023
File photo: The WPL could help Kiran Prabhu Navgire reclaim some of her lost glory  •  BCCI

File photo: The WPL could help Kiran Prabhu Navgire reclaim some of her lost glory  •  BCCI

The inaugural WPL brings with it a lot of unknowns, including a few names among the 57 Indians that not many know about. ESPNcricinfo looks at some of the lesser-known players who could grab the spotlight when the tournament kicks off from March 4.
Ashwani Kumari (Gujarat Giants)
In 2020-21, when Jharkhand finished runners-up of the Senior Women's One Day Trophy, Indrani Roy's firepower at the top received the perfect finish in the middle order, thanks to Ashwani. Opening the batting after Roy moved to Railways, Ashwani scored 237 runs in the Senior Women's T20 Trophy earlier in the season at a strike rate of 135.42 - second to only Jasia Akhtar's 138.57 among those with at least 150 runs in the tournament. With a lot of top-order options at Giants' disposal, Ashwani might have to show her wares as a finisher and chip in with her right-arm seam bowling.
V Sneha Deepthi (Delhi Capitals)
Being the only active mother in the Indian domestic circuit is not the sole USP of Deepthi. She strikes the ball hard and has the ability to take advantage of the powerplay at the top of the order. Leading South Zone, she scored 114 runs in five outings at a strike rate of 162.85 in the Senior Women's Inter-Zonal T20s in November last year. It won't be a surprise if Capitals pair Deepthi, ahead of some of the other options, with Shafali Verma at the top. Having already had a brief taste of playing for India - while being the youngest T20I debutant for India before Shafali - she'd be hungry for more.
Disha Kasat (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Alongside Bharti Fulmali, Komal Zanzad and Nupur Kohale, Kasat has been one of the constants for Vidarbha in the domestic circuit. She topped the batting charts in the Senior Women's T20 Trophy with 300 runs at a strike rate of 114.50, which prompted Royal Challengers to pick her up at her base price of INR 10 lakh. Kasat could well partner captain Smriti Mandhana at the top of the order, in case they decide to go with an Indian pairing. A natural strokemaker, surfaces at Brabourne Stadium and DY Patil Stadium could be to her liking.
Amanjot Kaur (Mumbai Indians)
Amanjot can hit the ball hard and also bowl seam - qualities which most teams like. Yearning for more challenges and competition made her return to Punjab after switching to Chandigarh in 2019-20 - a move she credits her improvement to. She scored at more than a run-a-ball for Punjab in the domestic season and picked up eight wickets in the Inter-Zonals. She displayed a calm attitude on her India debut after walking in in a tricky situation in the lower-middle order, something that could serve her well in the Mumbai Indians side, where options for the top order are plenty.
Kiran Prabhu Navgire (UP Warriorz)
She came into the spotlight after becoming the first Indian to hit a 150-plus score in a T20 match during her record-breaking 76-ball 162 for Nagaland against Arunachal Pradesh. Further hard-hitting exploits in the Women's T20 Challenge last year saw her earn her India cap. However, she couldn't capitalise on the sporadic chances she got at the top level and was eventually dropped after the Women's T20 Asia Cup last year. She then had a forgettable Senior Women's T20 Challenger Trophy. Dearth of Indian batting options in the Warriorz squad could push her into getting more chances and perhaps reclaiming her lost glory.
Shreyanka Patil (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
An offspinner with a high-arm action, Patil generates dip and turn and is an economical bowler. She picked up 20 wickets in the Senior Women's One Day Trophy for Karnataka, who finished runners-up. She also picked up 18 wickets across three T20 tournaments in the domestic season. She is also a reliable batter and it won't be a surprise if she starts for Royal Challengers in a bid to have a long batting order.
Jintimani Kalita (Mumbai Indians)
In the Senior Women's One Day Trophy, Assam were four down for 56. Kalita walked in and played a mature innings of 78 off 114 balls and helped them get to 214, which proved one run too many for Meghalaya. Only 19, she is the lone player in the WPL from Assam and bowls seam. Mumbai have a few options when it comes to seam-bowling allrounders, but Kalita is the only one who bats left-handed. She was also part of the Under-19 Women's Quadrangular series last year that featured Sri Lanka and West Indies. Irrespective of the chances she gets, she will emerge richer with experience after rubbing shoulders with Nat Sciver-Brunt, Pooja Vastrakar, Issy Wong.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo