Openers are key to any team’s success, especially in T20 leagues like WPL 2023. Teams look to their openers to give them a flying start and take maximum advantage of the fielding restrictions during the powerplay overs.
The five franchises in the WPL have looked to strengthen their squads by picking up openers who have tasted success in the past, in the shortest format. While some teams have looked to back experienced openers, a few have gone with a blend of experienced and young openers for the WPL 2023.
So, let’s look at the openers for all of the WPL 2023 teams and rank them based on their quality.
#1 Delhi Capitals
The franchise from Delhi has the most exciting opening combination. Aussie legend Meg Lanning and the young, dynamic Shafali Verma make an incredible opening pair. The duo added 162 runs in their first match of the tournament, against Royal Challengers Bangalore, in just 87 balls.
Lanning is an experienced cricketer, having played 132 WT20Is and has scored 3,405 runs at an average of 36.6 in 121 innings. She has scored two centuries and 15 half-centuries in the shortest format with a strike rate of 116.4.
She has captained Australia to four T20 World Cup titles and one ODI World Cup triumph during her tenure as an Aussie skipper.
Shafali Verma, on the other hand, has had an exciting start to her WT20I career. At a young age, she has already played 56 T20Is and has an astounding strike rate of 132.11 in the said matches.
She scored 84 out of a partnership of 162 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore and was later quoted as saying:
“I was a bit nervous at the start. The experience of playing with Lanning was good. She’s a good friend of mine and she told me to be responsible with the bat.”
Batting with Lanning will help Verma improve her game and the said opening combination is expected to do wonders in the upcoming matches of the WPL.
#2 Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB Women may have lost both their matches in WPL 2023 so far, however, their openers gave them a solid platform in both matches. The duo added 39 runs from 26 balls in the match against Mumbai Indians Women and 41 from 26 balls in their opening match against Delhi Capitals.
In Smriti Mandhana and Sophie Devine, the team has an experienced opening combination. The duo have incredible records for their respective countries in WT20Is.
Devine has played 119 WT20Is and has scored one century. Mandhana has been an incredible opener for India in limited-overs cricket and has the experience of playing 116 T20Is.
The tournament has just witnessed glimpses of the brilliance of Mandhana and Devine. However, if the duo gets going in the subsequent games, there is no stopping them, and they could be the pair to watch out for in WPL 2023.
#3 Mumbai Indians
Mumbai Indians Women have started their WPL campaign with a bang, having won both their matches. Hayley Matthews has been in incredible batting form, getting 47 from 31 against Gujarat Giants and 77* from 38 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Yastika Bhatia, the other opener, is yet to impress with the bat in the WPL so far.
Bhatia scored just one run in the game against the Gujarat Giants. In the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore Women, she scored a brisk 23 and added 45 for the first wicket with Matthews.
Matthews has played 82 WT20Is while Bhatia has the experience of only 15. Matthews will look to guide the young keeper-batsman with her experience.
#4 UP Warriorz
Alyssa Healy is currently one of the most feared openers in limited-overs cricket. She is known to attack the opposition bowlers in the powerplay overs and is an asset for any team.
Healy, skipper of the UP franchise, has played 141 WT20Is and possesses an incredible strike rate of 126.92.
Her opening partner Shweta Sehrawat was the vice-captain of the Indian team that recently won the ICC Women’s U-19 T20 World Cup. She tasted success with the bat in that tournament and will look to make the transition to the next level. She has a brilliant mentor in Healy with whom she will open the batting in WPL 2023 for her franchise.
#5 Gujarat Giants
Gujarat Giants suffered a big blow when their skipper and opening batter Beth Mooney suffered an injury before scoring her first run. She did not play the second game against UP Warriorz.
Gujarat opened with Sabbhineni Meghana and Sophia Dunley in the match against the UP Warriorz and the duo added 34 runs in 23 balls before the latter was dismissed.
Meghana has played 17 T20Is for India but apart from one half-century, she is yet to make an impression on the big stage. Dunley has a strike rate of 117.68 from 34 WT20I innings.
If Mooney misses out on a few more games in the WPL due to her injury, it will be up to Meghana and Dunley to provide flying starts to their franchise.