Indian cricket board to hold first WPL auction next week
FILE - West Indies cricketers celebrate after winning the World T20 women's semi-final match against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, India, yesterday. West Indies won by six runs.

NEW DELHI, India, (AFP) – Five teams participating in the inaugural Women's Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament will bid for 409 cricketers from across the world next week, India's cricket board announced on Tuesday.

The world's richest and most influential cricket body in January earned $572.5 million from the bids to own five teams in the league, which will be played from March 4 to March 26 in the western Indian city of Mumbai.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) already hosts the money-spinning Indian Premier League men's tournament, with the new women's league expanding the board's franchise cricket empire.

The board also shared a WPL player shortlist, which includes 246 Indians and 163 overseas players from the 1,525 cricketers who registered for the auction.

"A maximum of 90 slots are available with the five teams, with 30 being slotted for overseas players," BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement.

Several top women cricketers -- including India captain Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma and Australian Ellyse Perry -- have a base auction price of around $60,000.

Shah in January described the start of the WPL as "a historic day", saying that the tournament "marks the beginning of a revolution in women's cricket".

The announcement comes weeks after the BCCI announced a windfall of $116.7 million after Viacom18 won the media rights to air the first five seasons of the women's league.

Last year, the BCCI sold the rights for the men's IPL for a record $6.2 billion for five seasons.

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