India vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur says playing in the Women’s Big Bash League will be as exciting as making her international debut.
Harmanpreet is set to sign with reigning WBBL premiers Sydney Thunder, where she will line up alongside the likes of Australia vice-captain Alex Blackwell and rising fast bowler Lauren Cheatle.
With the Thunder also expected to retain the services of West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor for WBBL|02, the addition of allrounder Harmanpreet will only strengthen an already impressive roster.
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"Being the first Indian to be picked is a huge honour for me," Harmanpreet told Cricbuzz.
"There are other senior, more experienced players in the team, but I have been chosen which is an huge achievement for me.
"I am as excited as I was when I made my India debut, if not more. It feels the same way like you've been chosen to play for an international team.
"It feels like I am making my debut all over again. I am really looking forward to it."
Harmanpreet, who made her debut for India in 2009, captured the attention of WBBL recruiters when she blasted her team to victory against the world champion Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars in Adelaide on Australia Day.
Her 31-ball 46 helped her team chase down Australia’s 5-140 with ease, setting in motion an historic first-ever series win over the hosts.
It ensured the 27-year-old had her choice of WBBL offers once the Board of Control for Cricket in India gave the green light for its players to take part in the tournament.
"When the BCCI announced that the Indian players are free to play, three teams made an offer," Harmanpreet said, naming Brisbane Heat and Adelaide Strikers as the other potential suitors.
"I took my time to see and analyse how those three teams fared in the first season. And I went with Sydney Thunder because they were the winners last time.
"I gave them the preference because they are an experienced side and hence it will be a challenging environment."
The opportunity to learn from the likes of Blackwell and Taylor was a major attraction, Harmanpreet said, while the pressure of playing in front of large crowds and television cameras would also be a welcome challenge.
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"They are such established players and have so much experience. I will get to learn about their routines, their mind set.
"It is such a huge learning opportunity for me to be able to play alongside them. I consider myself really lucky to be able to get his chance to play along with such established stars.
"There will be obvious pressure of playing for the defending champions and performing well so that I don't let them down. After the kind of season they had last time, their confidence and morale would be sky high and it will be challenging for me to blend in.
"The conditions there are very different. The wickets would be hard and bouncy and I am practicing here to cope up with the conditions on offer there in Australia."
Harmanpreet is the first India player on board for WBBL|02, but she isn’t expecting to be the last, tipping teammates Smriti Mandhana and Veda Krishnamurthy to also be in demand from clubs.