Nida Dar set to become first Pakistani to play in WBBL; signs deal with Sydney Thunder

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Nida Dar's all-round performance powers Pakistan to a historic win

With a career strike rate close to 97, Nida Dar is one of Pakistan's most destructive batters. © PCB

Nida Dar, the veteran Pakistan allrounder, has become the first Pakistan woman to sign a deal with a foreign T20 domestic franchise following her deal with Sydney Thunder for the fifth season of the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia. The tournament which is set to begin on October 14, will see players from England, West Indies, New Zealand and South Africa join Australia’s best international and domestic cricketers in the first ever standalone event.

Dar, an off-spinning allrounder, has played 96 T20Is for Pakistan scoring 1086 runs and taking 88 wickets —joint-highest alongside fellow off-spinner Sana Mir— as well. Most recently, she smashed a career-best 75— her fourth T20I half-century— against South Africa in Benoni.

“It’s wonderful,” said Dar, shortly after the announcement on Thursday (October 3). “I have dreamt that I would one day play in this amazing league, and now I have the opportunity to play for Sydney Thunder. This is a great thing for me, it is a great achievement to play in the WBBL. I have been following the WBBL, it is great.”

“It is the very first time a woman from Pakistan has come to play in the WBBL. I know people from Pakistan will be very proud. I know the people who have come from Pakistan to settle in Sydney will follow me, and that’s very exciting.”

One of Pakistan’s most experienced players, Dar is set to replace Stafanie Taylor — who has signed with Adelaide Strikers for this seasons’s WBBL — in the Thunder squad. As a like-for-like replacement, she will fit perfectly into the team’s plans for the tournament.

“Sydney Thunder need an all-rounder and they want an energetic player, so I think I can offer those two things to them," she said. "It’s T20 cricket, so it is an attacking game and I am an attacking player. I have always wanted to excite people. I want to grab the audience.”

She boasts of a T20I best of 5 for 21 and also has a career economy rate of 5.21, pointing to her prowess with the ball in the shortest format of the game. With the bat too, Dar has been one of Pakistan’s most attacking batters smashing her runs at a strike rate of 96.27 while also collecting 18 sixes along the way— more than any other Pakistan batter.

Trevor Griffin, head coach of Thunder, said he is excited about Dar's arrival and believes that she will bring a great deal of experience and add depth to the squad.

“Nida is a fantastic signing for us,”  said. “She’s a world-class player with Pakistan and she’s going to bring a wealth of experience to Thunder. She’s ranked in the top five ICC players for T20 all-rounders and she’s got vast experience that will help with our young players and certainly add to the team.”

When Dar does make her way to Australia, she will join the likes of Rachel Priest, Rachael Haynes, Alex Blackwell and Rene Farrell in what is otherwise largely a young Thunder squad.