Good performance in the ongoing India Women vs Australia Women series has landed India pair Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma new Women Big Bash League (WBBL) contract. Sydney Thunder have added a touch of class to their Weber WBBL title defence, signing star Indian opener Mandhana along with Deepti.
Opener Mandhana boasts an outstanding record in Australia, with news of her signing coming fresh off the 94-ball 86 she struck in Friday’s second ODI in Mackay.
The 25-year-old has previously played for Hobart Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat in WBBL. Sharma will appear in the WBBL for the first time, bringing her skill with the bat in the middle-order and providing an off-spin option with the ball.
Their additions will go a long way to addressing the losses of England pair Heather Knight and Tammy Beaumont, who were not re-contracted due to scheduled tour of Pakistan in October (that has since been cancelled) and local opener Rachel Trenaman, who has moved to the Hurricanes.
“I like that she keeps her game really simple; she just wants to score runs,” Thunder coach Trevor Griffin said of Mandhana.
“While it’s disappointing not to be able to have Heather back, if you could choose any replacement for her it would be Deepti – she’s also a star.
“She offers a lot with the bat – Deepti is a match winner – and she also has the talent to bowl in the powerplay, during the middle of a match, or at the death.”
The pair are the first Indian signings officially confirmed for WBBL|07, although hard-hitting opener Shafali Verma and left-arm spinner Radha Yadav have been linked to the Sydney Sixers.
It ends a two-year drought without an India player appearing in what is considered the world’s best domestic T20 competition for women; international duties prevented them taking part in WBBL|05 before last season clashed with IPL exhibition matches.
Mandhana, who appeared in The Hundred in the UK last month, said she relished the pressure that accompanies playing as a marquee.
“I like it, it always helps,” she said. “Playing in overseas leagues gives you a lot of experience, especially in the T20 format.
“Then, of course, you exchange so much experience with each other … with all the players from over the world, so you get to learn a lot.
“Rather than ‘pressure’, I always look at it as an opportunity to learn, and to get used to that pressure because it only builds when you play international cricket.”
The Thunder, who upset Melbourne Stars in last year’s decided to claim their second title, have one international spot left to confirm, and one local spot.