The Indian women’s cricket team has come far from just being a mediocre competitor.
In the recently released Forbes India top 100 celebrity list, three female cricketers – Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur, and Smriti Mandhana – featured among a list dominated by Bollywood stars and male cricketers.
It was 2017 when the women’s squad was just a blink away from winning their second ODI World Cup final against Australia, almost 12 years after their first appearance in 2005.
India stood at 35 for 2 on that July afternoon, when Harmanpreet Kaur walked out to bat and blazed 171 runs, booking their berth for a massive victory. Though the team lost the finals to England three days later, it was the turning point of women’s cricket in a country that eats, sleeps and breathes the sport.
In the present scenario, female cricketers get recognised not just by their game but also by their paycheques which is not equal to their male counterparts but was revised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India after seeing their World Cup performance.
With more matches of women’s cricket being telecasted, the pay has also increased for Grade A contract from ₹15 lakh to ₹50 lakh and Grade B from ₹10 lakh to ₹30 lakh.
The rising popularity and performance resulted in women cricketers being added as a sub-category among sports personalities in the list while considering their pay and brand endorsements.
According to a Forbes India report, Mithali Raj holds a bat sponsorship deal with Laver & Wood, alongside endorsing Uber and Rio Tinto’s diamonds. Mandhana has a bat deal with Hero MotoCorp and endorses Bata. Kaur is the brand ambassador for ITC’s B Natural juices and also a deal with Ceat.
Today, Raj, Mandhana and Kaur stand tall at ranks 88, 90 and 91 on the list and things are only looking brighter for them as they head towards their Women’s T20I Tri-Series in Australia in January next year.