Chandigarh: A native of Moga in Punjab, Harmanpreet Kaur has become the first Indian woman cricketer to be signed by a foreign T20 franchise, Sydney Thunder, for the second edition of the women’s Big Bash League (BBL) in Australia, to be played next December-January.
The 27-year-old batswoman and medium-fast bowler got the nod from the defending champions based on her all-round abilities and her recent performances. A power-hitter, Harmanpreet was an outstanding performer for India in this year’s World T20, in which she scored 89 runs and took seven wickets in four matches. The India vice-captain’s signing by Sydney Thunder comes just a month after the Indian cricket board (BCCI) gave the go-ahead to the Indian women players to participate in overseas leagues. Harmanpreet was spoilt for choice as she was approached by three Australian franchisees but the Railways cricketer chose the Sydney team as it is the champion.
“I saw their matches on TV during India’s tour of Australia recently. It is a very competitive side led by Alex Blackwell. I hope to get to play a lot of matches with them,” she said. She added that Indian women players are better than the Australians in terms of skills, though they need to get fitter. India captain Mithali Raj and fast bowler Jhulan Goswami were approached by Adelaide Strikers for the inaugural edition of the tournament but the BCCI refused to grant them permission, citing India’s domestic T20 league.
India’s women cricketers rue that they get a few opportunities to play at both international and domestic levels. Harmanpreet believes that the BBL experience will help her in getting match practice and exposure. Hailing from a middle-class family, Harmanpreet made her ODI debut against Pakistan in Bowral in March, 2009, and since then has been a regular in India’s ODI and T20I teams.
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