Indian cricketers Smriti Mandana and Deepti Sharma will play in the upcoming Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) as they are signed by defending champions Sydney Thunder for the seventh edition of the T20 tournament starting next month.
They are currently in Australia as part of the Indian team’s current tour and will return to the Owner’s League starting on October 14th.
Left-handed opener Mandana boasts of an outstanding record in Australia and played for India with 86 off 94 balls in the second ODI at McKay on Friday.
Mandana, 25, has previously featured in Hobart Hurricane and Brisbane Heat in the WBBL, but it will be All-rounder Deepati’s first tour of the tournament.
Sydney Thunder coach Trevor Griffin said on Sunday that his team’s title defense had gained an extra edge by adding Indian players.
Griffin, who has worked extensively with Mandana in the UK, was excited at the thought of the left-handed opener adding his firebrand to the side.
Griffin said of Mandana, winner of the 2018 ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year award, “She is world class.”
“Smriti is a talented batter, she has an incredible ability to carry everything effectively. I like that she keeps the game very simple; she loves to take runs. I’m glad she’s on board and I have no doubt she will be a great addition to the bat.
Mandana said she expects to gain valuable experience through this campaign.
“I like it, it always helps. Playing in foreign leagues gives you a lot of experience, especially in the T20 format,” the 25-year-old Sydney Thunder official website was quoted as saying.
“Then, of course, you exchange a lot of experience with each other … with all the players around the world … so you can learn a lot.
“Instead of pressure, I always see it as an opportunity to learn and get used to that pressure because it only develops when you play international cricket.”
Coach Griffin said Deepti will help fill the gap left by England captain Heather Knight.
Knight, who played brilliantly for Thunder throughout the successful WBBL campaign last season, is not available again this summer.
“While it’s disappointing that Heather’s not been able to get back, if you pick someone to replace her it’s Deepti, she’s a star too,” Griffin said.
“She gives a lot with the bat. Deepti is a match winner and she has the ability to bowl in the power play, in the middle of a match or in death.
“Deepti is a great addition to the bat and I have no doubt she will go a long way to help us in this year’s competition,” he added.
Deepti said he was happy to be a part of the Thunder team.
“This is my first time (in WBBL), so I’m excited,” he said.
“I already had offers, but at that time I could not play because at that time we had (an international) series. Having the opportunity to play in the WBBL is a big thing for Indian women’s cricket. We have to express ourselves in the tournament.”
Sydney Thunder begin their title defense against the Adelaide Strikers on October 16 at Bluntstone Arena in Hobart.