Global pandemic novel coronavirus has brought the entire world into a standstill. Alongside claiming and affecting several lives, this pandemic has cancelled or postponed all the sporting events since mid-March. And Women’s T20 Challenge is one of those tournaments. However, India speedster Shikha Pandey thinks a full-fledged Women’s Indian Premier League (IPL) is a couple of years away from now on.

Women’s T20 Challenge started in 2018 with an exhibition match in Mumbai where the Supernovas beat the TrailBlazers. In 2019, the league played with three teams instead of a one-off match, featuring a new team named Velocity along with Trailblazers and Supernovas. This year it was supposed to be a four-team contest with seven games.

Shikha Pandey played for the Trailblazers in 2018 while last year, she played for Velocity. However, the coronavirus pandemic forced the tournament to get postponed. While the 13th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) is going to take place in the UAE, there is no news about Women’s T20 Challenge.

Shikha Pandey

Shikha Pandey. © Getty Images

“As a cricketer, if you ask me, having the high-intensity games and being able to play them would be a big plus for us, at the international level, you get to play high-intensity games, to have world-class cricketers playing alongside you, you get to learn so much from them in terms of their experience,” Shikha Pandey was quoted as saying by ANI.

“With IPL matches being happening and them being televised, a lot of young girls would be able to watch it on television, it would be a huge thing as being a 90s kid I did not get the chance to watch televised women’s matches much,” she added.

“It would inspire the younger lot to take up cricket. We have got a huge talent pool within our domestic cricket, I would say Women’s IPL should happen and I am very sure in another year or two, we will see a very well organised Women’s IPL,” she shared.

“We have played Women’s T20 Challenge in 2018 and 2019, the kind of reception we got from the people that came to watch those matches was amazing, the stadium was jampacked, any international series we play in India, we have always received great support from the crowd,” added the pace bowler who made her debut for India in 2014.

Shikha Pandey recently shared her views over the rule change on Women’s Cricket that too on social media. She recently explained why she took to social media and urged lawmakers to not tinker with the rules. While a few suggested trying a smaller ball or shorter pitch, Shikha had suggested that instead of changing the rules, authorities should look to market the game better.

She expressed, “I have been hearing suggestions to make women’s cricket more appealing for a while now, there was a lot being said about the changes that were needed to be made in order to make women’s cricket more attractive, it was something I wanted to express, what I wrote in my Twitter thread was what I really felt.”

“There were many people who agreed with it, but I was happy that people who did not agree with my opinion also came out and talked about it. I was very happy with the very fact that people were coming out suggesting changes, it means they are thinking about women’s cricket and how it can grow,” she further added.

Shikha Pandey was a part of the Indian squad that reached the finals of the 2017 50-over World Cup and T20 World Cup earlier this year. While India lost to England by 9 runs in 2017, Harmanpreet Kaur-led India faced defeat against Australia this year.  The pace spearhead, who has 73 ODI wickets in her kitty, spoke about the impacts of defeats in major tournaments.

She told, “After the 2017 World Cup, there was a surge in a number of girls who actually wanted to take up cricket professionally in India, they have been coming to to the academies in order to become next Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami. The games after the 2017 World Cup have been televised no matter where we have played.”

Shikha Pandey. © Getty Images

“It was amazing to see so many people come down at the MCG to watch the finals of the T20 World Cup, it is once in a lifetime opportunity to play at the MCG to play in a front of so many people on Women’s Day with greats like Katy Perry and Billie Jean King. It was a spectacle, we lost the match, yes, but we were very lucky to play in front of so many people,” said Shikha Pandey about the T20 World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

She even shared her learning from those defeats as well. “Everyone’s mental setup is different, I have learnt a lot of things from the two finals that I played in, I always believe that you learn a lot more from defeats than from the success you have, holding your nerve in high-pressure situations is something I have learnt, to be able to think clearly is another thing I have learnt,” said Shikha.

However, the 50-over World Cup is scheduled to take place in New Zealand early next year. Meanwhile, Shikha said that the team would ensure that everyone is in the peak of their fitness when they get back into the action again.

“I cannot really assess the time I will require to get back into shape, I have been doing my conditioning sessions and I have kept them as a top priority, I have been doing everything to be in the best shape possible. I am hopeful that we have the 2021 World Cup next year on time,” Pandey said. “I am really looking forward to it, when we get back to the field we will make sure that we are at peak of our fitness, we will make sure that we are mentally and physically fit.”

The team was last played in the finals of the T20 World Cup this year against Australia. After that, COVID-19 pandemic forced to postpone all their series.

While talking about how she spent her lockdown days, Shikha said: “The initial few days were a bit difficult, but then once I started following my routine, I had a timetable for myself, I have been working out twice a day, the trainer has been really helpful as he has been sending the programmes, I have been staying in isolation at Goa Cricket Indoor facility, I have spent a lot of time with my family, it is a privilege to be at home for this long.”

Notably, The BCCI has withdrawn the name from taking part in the tri-series in England which is scheduled to taking place next month. The decision came with the rise of COVID-19 cases. And the time can tell when they will be back in action again.

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