Both players are currently part of India’s squad that’s playing the multi-format series against Australia in Mackay. Opening batter Mandhana, previously represented Brisbane Heat and Hobart Hurricanes, in the competition while this will be first appearance in WBBL for allrounder Sharma.
India T20I skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, batter Veda Krishnamurthy also have been part of the league in the past. In the last two seasons, Indians missed out on contracts owing to international commitments and a clash with Women’s T20 Challenge in 2020.
“I like it, it always helps. Playing in overseas leagues gives you a lot of experience, especially in the T20 format,” said the 25-year-old Mandhana. “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.”
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24-year-old Sharma talked about the excitement of signing playing the WBBL for the first time and added that it’s a big opportunity for her.
“I’ve had offers before, but I couldn’t play at the time because at the time we had (India) series. t’s a big thing for Indian women’s cricket that we have the opportunity to play in the WBBL. We have to express ourselves in the competition,” Sharma.
“It’s a big thing for Indian women’s cricket that we have the opportunity to play in the WBBL. We have to express ourselves in the competition.”
Trevor Griffin, head coach of Thunder, has worked with both Mandhana and Sharma when they were part of Western Storm’s triumph in the final season of the now defunct Women’s Cricket Super League (WCSL) in England. Sharma was also one of the members of London Spirit in the recently concluded The Hundred with Griffin in charge.
“She’s world class; Smriti is an opening batter who has the tremendous ability to take everything in her stride,” Griffin said. “I like that she keeps her game really simple; she just wants to score runs. I’m delighted to have her on board, and I have no doubt that she’ll prove to be a great addition to Thunder.”
England players Heather Knight and Tammy Beaumont were part of Thunder’ successful campaign in WBBL06. Knight was instrumental during the edition and hit the winning run in the final against Melbourne Stars.
“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,” Triffin added.
“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. Deepti is a great addition to the Thunder, and I have no doubt she’ll go a long way to helping us in this year’s competition.”
Sydney Thunder squad: Rachael Haynes (C), Samantha Bates, Hannah Darlington, Corinne Hall, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield, Smriti Mandhana, Kate Peterson, Olivia Porter, Deepti Sharma, Lauren Smith, Tahlia Wilson.