Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan has led the celebrations after the team that he partly owns, the Trinbago Knight Riders, won the inaugural Women’s Caribbean Premier League (WCPL) beating the Barbados Royals by 10 runs in the final.
He posted a video of the team celebrating their win on social media, adding the Queen song “We are the Champions” as background music. His son too, Aryan Khan congratulated the team on their victory.
Earlier this year, Cricket West Indies announced their intention to hold a female version of the Caribbean Premier League for the first time. Unlike the male equivalent, though, which has six competing franchises, this year there were only three sides, with the Guyana Amazon Warriors the other side to take part.
It is hoped that, in future years, more franchise can be added.
The three teams played each other once in the group stage on a round robin basis, with the top two advancing to the final. All matches were played in Saint Kitts.
The competition began with a very tight contest between the Knight Riders and the Royals, which saw the Knight Riders win by the narrowest of margins. They made 114/7 from their 20 overs, with the Royals then falling one run short in their reply.
The next day, honours were shared and both the Knight Riders and Guyana had to content themselves with a point apiece after bad weather prevented the completion of their match.
That meant the game between Barbados and Guyana was in effect a decider to see who would be the other finalist, the Royals winning the right with a 4 wicket victory.
The final in Basseterre on Sunday was a low scoring affair. The Royals won the toss and chose to field first, restricting the Knight Riders to just 100/7 from their allotted overs, despite 59 from their captain and opening batter, Deandra Dottin. Hayley Matthews was the best of the Barbados bowlers with 3 – 24.
But, in turn, the Royals were dismissed for just 90 in the 19th over of their innings. Matthews continued her final individual match by making 46, but she was the only woman to even reach double figures. Anisa Mohammed finished with 3 – 16, and there were 2 wickets apiece for Shenata Grimmond, Hayley Jensen and Sune Luus.
The margin of victory was 10 runs.
Connection to the CPL
The WCPL is intended to run in parallel with the main CPL, which is currently in the group stage of the competition. And, it follows the model of competitions like the Big Bash League and The Hundred, where women’s tournaments co-exist alongside that for men.
As yet, there is no female equivalent of the Indian T20 league. However, it has been reported that the BCCI is looking to start one as early as 2023, with preliminary dates of between late February and March pencilled in, after the conclusion of the Women’s T20I World Cup.
Already there are indications that some of the existing men’s franchises will be looking to get involved with the new competition, in the same way that they have spread their tentacles to the new South African T20 league.
The Bollywood connection to cricket
Khan is by no means the only figure from Bollywood who has an interest in cricket. Actress Preity Zinta is part-owner of the Kings XI Punjab, whilst Shilpa Shetty has a stake in the Rajasthan Royals franchise. Cricketers have either dated or married actresses – Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Mohammad Azharuddin to name a few – and others have even gone on to star in Bollywood films, like Kapil Dev.
Khan himself acquired the franchise for Kolkata through his company Red Chilies Entertainment, in partnership with another actress Juhi Chawla, and Jay Mehta, her husband.
In June 2015, they acquired a stake in the CPL franchise the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel, who were renamed the Knight Riders the following year. His group has also invested in the forthcoming American Major League Cricket. They are also one of the successful bidders for the new South African league, having acquired the rights to new Cape Town franchise, which too will bear the moniker “Knight Riders.”
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