The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) governing body has begun the process of finding buyers for teams in the upcoming inaugural edition of the Women’s Indian Premier League (WIPL).

The first-ever WIPL, a Twenty20 tournament like the men's version, is expected to take place in March, having been officially confirmed by the BCCI in October. The men’s IPL has been running since 2008 and is now one of the highest-valued leagues in global sport in terms of franchise valuation.

For the WIPL tender process, which opened yesterday (January 3), all interested companies will need to pay the equivalent of $7,240 by January 21 to secure the official invitation to tender (ITT) document.

The BCCI will then determine which companies out of those bidding are the most suitable to be awarded franchise rights to WIPL teams. The governing body has said it is inviting bids from "reputed entities."

There are currently 10 IPL teams, with the two most recent expansion franchises – the Lucknow Super Giants and the Gujarat Titans – having been added in advance of last year’s edition.

The national governing body approved the women’s IPL at its most recent annual general meeting in October, with the inaugural edition reportedly set to take place across three weeks in March.

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The tournament will likely feature five teams and a total of 22 matches.

This ITT has been launched following the deadline for interested broadcasters to buy official documents related to purchasing WIPL media rights.

The media rights ITT, covering the first five WIPL seasons, was launched on December 12, with a deadline for purchasing the necessary documentation of December 31.

For the men's IPL, pay-TV heavyweight Star India is the domestic TV rightsholder.

The WIPL will follow on from the Women's Hundred in the UK and the Women's Big Bash League in Australia as another major opportunity for female cricketers. A tournament in Pakistan is also expected to start either this year or next.

The appetite for women’s cricket in India and a women’s IPL has hit a high following a sequence of impressive performances by the national team in global competitions over recent years. In June last year, the team won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK.

The side also reached the final of the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup and the 2017 Women’s World Cup, while India has been awarded hosting rights to the ICC Women’s World Cup in 2025.

Image: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images