The Indian Premier League (IPL) is known as the best T20 franchise league across the globe. Quite similarly, when it comes to women’s cricket, the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) is the most sought-after T20 competition.
The WBBL has always featured quality players from different countries and this time around, there will be as many as eight Indian players participating in the seventh season of the tournament, which will be played from October 14 to November 27.
While Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma will represent the Sydney Thunder, Shafali Verma and Radha Yadav will ply their trade for the Sydney Sixers. Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur will play for the Melbourne Renegades. Richa Ghosh and Poonam Yadav will be part of the Hobart Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat respectively. All these players are considered to be key additions to their sides.
On that note, let's have a look at what each of them will bring to the table for their franchises.
Smriti Mandhana (Sydney Thunder)
The dashing Indian opener is not new to the WBBL, having already played for the Hobart Hurricanes and Brisbane Heat. Mandhana brings the power factor to the top of the order, with her ability to score quick and big runs. She is experienced and will have to utilize her good form, especially in the absence of Rachael Haynes in the first half of the tournament.
During India's recent tour of Australia, Smriti scored 86 in the third T20I and a record 127 in the day-night Test. She can be explosive and bat responsibly at the same time, being the perfect candidate to open the innings in this format.
Deepti Sharma (Sydney Thunder)
The Sydney Thunder lack an off-spinning all-rounder. Therefore, Deepti Sharma will play a key role in providing balance to the side. The Indian is known to be effective with the ball and will help fill in some crucial overs. She was the leading wicket-taker for the London Spirit in the Hundred and is a decent option with the bat as well.
Deepti has been in decent form since the Australia series and is a good replacement for Heather Knight. Her off-spin provides some much-needed variety to the Sydney Thunder’s bowling attack as she can be economical and pick up wickets at crucial junctures. She is also capable of making vital contributions with her batting if the need arises.
Shafali Verma (Sydney Sixers)
Shafali Verma has built a reputation as one of the most exciting talents with the bat. She could form a deadly opening pair with Alyssa Healy. The Sixers could really do with some fire-power at the top as they look to change their fortunes after two disappointing WBBL seasons. Verma is fearless in her approach and can give them solid starts upfront.
The Indian is currently the top-ranked T20I batter who plays an attacking brand of cricket. Shafali Verma is a big boost to any side as her gameplay suits the T20 format. Her rise in such a short time-span shows just how impressive she has been. She will have an important role to play with the Sixers.
Radha Yadav (Sydney Sixers)
Radha Yadav strengthens Sixers' spin department. The Indian is 11th in the ICC T20I rankings for bowlers. The Sixers have never had any of her skillset on their side, with Radha being a left-arm spinner. It will add to the variety and give their bowling attack a different dynamic. With the departure of Dane van Niekerk, Radha comes in as a vital inclusion.
Her career best figures have come in Melbourne, where she picked up 4/23 against Sri Lanka in last year’s T20 World Cup. She has also batted for India in the middle order and can prove to be handy with the bat lower down the order. Radha Yadav is also a gun fielder, making her all the more effective as a T20 player. She is someone who can contribute in all three aspects of the game and is a valuable inclusion for the Sixers.
Jemimah Rodrigues (Melbourne Renegades)
Jemimah Rodrigues has already made her mark at a young age. She is a dynamic batter, who is capable of scoring at a quick pace and has the ability to hit all parts of the ground. Jemimah was phenomenal in the recently concluded Hundred. The right-handed batter was the second-highest run-scorer with 249 runs from seven innings. Her strike rate of 150.90 was also worth taking note of.
Rodrigues scored an unbeaten 49 in the first T20I against Australia recently. Consistency has been the key to her play and she is also a livewire on the field. Jemimah can single-handedly win games and is just the impact player that the Renegades would want in their side.
Harmanpreet Kaur (Melbourne Renegades)
Of all the Indian cricketers, Harmanpreet Kaur is the only other player with Smriti Mandhana to have previous WBBL experience. She represented Sydney Thunder for three seasons. The Indian T20I captain already has a reputation for being a powerful hitter and match-winner with the bat. Harman is handy with the ball as well in addition to being excellent on the field.
She may not be in the best of form due to her injury, but it should not take long for a player of her experience to come to the party. Her record at international level over the past decade has been brilliant and she brings a lot of value to any side.
Harman’s all-round abilities are her strength, which also makes her an impact player. Her intensity on the field is also an added bonus and she has what it takes to take games away from any opposition on her day.
Richa Ghosh (Hobart Hurricanes)
The 17-year-old Indian wicketkeeper-batter has caught everyone’s attention after her recent performances in the ODI series against Australia. She brought power to India’s middle order. With the Hurricanes, she will play a similar role in providing stability to the middle order. For a youngster playing on Australian soil, or any overseas country for that matter, she has shown great character.
Ghosh can also hit the ball hard. Her ability to be a stable batter in the middle and also change gears when needed makes her a perfect addition to any batting line-up. She will also be keen to work on her keeping skills and contribute with the gloves from behind the stumps.
Poonam Yadav (Brisbane Heat)
Poonam Yadav has been India’s ace spinner for quite some time now. She has replaced Amelia Kerr and will have added responsibility on her shoulders. The Indian leg-spinner is known to be a genuine wicket-taker. She has the experience of playing in 71 T20Is, picking up 98 wickets in the process. Yadav is also quite effective with an economy of just 5.7. In the opening game against Australia in last year’s T20 World Cup, she returned with figures of 4/19.
Her best figures in the format are 4/9, which shows that Poonam can dominate the batters and spin a web around them all by herself. She comes as a big boost to Brisbane Heat’s attack, with Poonam Yadav and Jess Jonassen likely to be a formidable duo.