Harmanpreet was a star attraction for Adelaide Strikers and Brisbane Heat as well © Getty Images
Harmanpreet was a star attraction for Adelaide Strikers and Brisbane Heat as well © Getty Images

As soon as BCCI President Anurag Thakur announced that Harmanpreet Kaur has struck a deal with the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) Champions Sydney Thunder, congratulatory messages haven’t stopped coming. The Indian Women’s cricket team all-rounder hailing from Moga in Punjab, is all set to become India’s first women cricketer to become a part of a foreign franchise. Although, Sydney Thunder’s general manager Nick Cummins comment that she had not yet been signed left everyone confused, Harmanpreet in an interview with Cricbuzz.com clarified the issue saying that the BCCI had given her a verbal go-ahead and she is waiting for a formal no-objection certificate (NOC). The 27-year old also talks about her feelings on being picked, her road ahead and the opportunity to play with other legends. READ: Harmanpreet Kaur signs deal with Sydney Thunder for BBL 2016-17

When asked about how it felt to become the first Indian to be picked in the WBBL, Harmanpreet said – “I am really excited. Being the first Indian to be picked is a huge honour for me. There are other senior, more experienced players in the team, but I have been chosen which is a 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. Everyone around me is very happy for me. Everyone is calling to congratulate and it feels great. It feels like I am making my debut all over again. I am really looking forward to it. I called up my parents first thing, but I am currently training in Pune, so no plans of going back to Moga as yet.” READ: Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur, Jhulan Goswami’s way to WBBL despite BCCI’s reluctance

When she was asked about how the whole process went by until her selection, she said – “The last time the Indian team went to Australia, they had shown interest. They wanted the Indian players to participate (in WBBL). But back then, as you know, BCCI did not grant us permission. Now, when the BCCI announced that the Indian players are free to play, three teams made an offer. Then, I got a mail from BCCI saying that three teams are interested in picking you.”

She added – “I took my time to see and analyze how those three teams fared in the first season. And I went with Sydney Thunder because they were the winners last time. Also, they have only one overseas player (while the rules allow for a maximum of two in playing XI). I gave them the preference because they are an experienced side and hence it will be a challenging environment.”

Harmanpreet was a star attraction for two other franchises as well. She said the other two franchises included Adelaide Strikers and Brisbane Heat. When asked about what kind of offer was made by the franchises Harmanpreet said that she will only get to know the offer when she signs the papers. However, she was glad to get the opportunity and didn’t bother to pay attention to the money offered. She believes Cricket and experience are what matters to her the most. READ: WBBL franchises set eye on India Women players

When asked about why Sydney Thunder have denied the signing, she responded saying – “That’s because I haven’t officially signed it yet. As of now, the BCCI has permitted us but I am awaiting an NoC. I haven’t signed and sent the documents back yet. Once I picked a team, of the three I was offered, I was asked to convey that I have accepted their (Thunder’s) offer but I am yet to formally sign them. Once I get the NoC, I can sign and seal the deal. Neither have I given them anything in writing yet, nor has BCCI sent a formal letter. Hence the hold up, I think. This could take another couple of days, I think. There isn’t any deadline that I know of.” READ: Sydney Thunder deny contract with Harmanpreet Kaur

As for her preparations before the WBBL, Harmanpreet said – “I’ve come to Pune for personal training. I’ve recently started working under Harshal Pathak in Pune. I’ve been working on my fitness as well as batting and bowling.”

Harmanpreet will also be sharing her dressing room with players like Alex Blackwell and Stafanie Taylor now. When asked about the opportunity she said – “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.”

Speaking on the challenges that lie ahead of her while playing for Sydney Thunder, she said – “They were the winners last time, so they obviously have their processes and planning in place. 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.”

She added – “Winning games for my team is where my focus will be. I am preparing hard for my debut stint. 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.”

When asked about which other Indian women cricketers she thinks can make it to the WBBL, she said – “We have quite a talented squad, there are so many who can make it to WBBL. Smriti (Mandhana) and Veda (Krishnamurthy), for example, are hard-hitting batters and they deserve to be playing in those leagues.”

Finally, the talented cricketer was asked if she feels its time to have an IPL for Women as well and she said – “We’ve been waiting a long time for that, haven’t we? But now, frankly, I feel it should happen soon. Anurag sir has taken so many initiatives for women’s cricket already and I am hoping he will consider Women’s IPL too in the near future. We all are eagerly awaiting his decision. If sir has given us the permission to step out and play for other franchises, maybe the women’s IPL is also on its way.”