Sthalekar lauds record-setting women's IPL

Former Australia captain Lisa Sthalekar has thrown her support behind the record-breaking introduction of a fully fledged Indian Premier League-style Twenty20 tournament for women.

Since 2018, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) has been staging a three-team Women's T20 Challenge alongside the hugely popular IPL for the men and faced demands to start a women's tournament.

On Wednesday, the BCCI announced the sale of five franchises for the Women's Premier League (WPL), which will be played in March, for amounts surpassing those raised at the launch of the men's competition 15 years ago.

The owners of IPL's Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore franchises are among the five entities who purchased teams in the WPL for a combined total of more than $800 million.

The Adani group made the highest bid of approximately $223m to buy the Ahmedabad franchise, while Capri Global Holdings agreed to pay $131m for Lucknow.

"Today is a historic day in cricket as the bidding for teams of inaugural WPL broke the records of the inaugural men's IPL in 2008," tweeted BCCI secretary Jay Shah.

"This marks the beginning of a revolution in women's cricket and paves the way for a transformative journey ahead not only for our women cricketers but for the entire sports fraternity."

Allrounder Sthalekar - who represented Australia between 2001 and 2013, winning four world titles along the way - took to social media to express her delight at the development.

"It sure is HISTORIC," she wrote. "The women's game breaking records already & they haven't even played a game yet. This is so exciting. Congratulations to @BCCI & all involved."

The BCCI has already sold the tournament's media rights for the next five years to Viacom 18 for $165m which translates into per-match-value of $1.2m.

Former India captain Mithali Raj predicted "exciting times" for women's cricket, while England batter Danni Wyatt also took to Twitter to describe the dawn of the new tournament as "amazing".

- with Reuters