The Hundred – India Women players formalising deals, Shafali Verma emerges as replacement option
Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur and Deepti Sharma have been given NOCs by BCCI
India Women players Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma and Jemimah Rodrigues are set to represent Manchester Originals, Southern Brave, London Spirit and Northern Superchargers respectively in the inaugural edition of the Hundred. A fifth Indian player, the ICC’s No. 1-ranked T20I batter Shafali Verma, is also on the radar of at least one team as a potential replacement player in the event of any last-minute withdrawals.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the four players – Kaur, Mandhana, Sharma, and Rodrigues – are likely to complete contract formalities imminently, with the BCCI already having sent the ECB No-Objection Certificates (NOCs) for each of them. It is expected that the ECB will announce the signings soon.
Verma, 17, is understood to be on the radar of at least one team, and would be a front-runner to fill a spot in the event of the unavailability of any other overseas players.
Five South Africa players – Chloe Tryon (Spirit), Mignon du Preez and Lizelle Lee (Originals), Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp (Oval Invincibles) – are contracted to play in the tournament, and direct flights between the two countries have been suspended since December 2020, though some players have travelled via other countries to fulfil contracts in men’s county cricket.
Travel concerns face the Indians, too, as it remains unclear how or when the men’s and women’s national teams, who have international assignments scheduled through mid-June to August in England, will fly to the UK, where India is among the government’s ‘red list’ of countries.
While India men are due to play the World Test Championship final against New Zealand in Southampton in June and a five-Test series against England starting in August, the women’s teams play against each other in a one-off Test, in Bristol, starting June 16, followed by three ODIs and three T20Is from June 27 to July 15.
The Indian contingent at the Women’s Hundred will extend their stay following the completion of that tour, with the 100-ball competition starting on July 21 with the match between the Invincibles and the Originals at The Oval before their respective men’s sides meet the following day.
Kaur, Mandhana, Rodrigues and Sharma completed the Indian contingent at the now-defunct Kia Super League (KSL), the ECB’s domestic T20 tournament that made way for the Women’s Hundred.
No male Indian players will be involved in the tournament’s inaugural season. Harbhajan Singh, the veteran offspinner, registered for the Hundred’s initial draft in 2019 but withdrew after it became clear he would have to sacrifice his IPL contract and retire from international duty to appear in the competition.
If Verma, India’s youngest T20I debutant in men’s or women’s cricket, gets a contract at the Hundred, it would be her first in any overseas T20 competition. In her nascent 22-match international career, Verma, who is capped only in the T20I format, has established herself as one of the most fearless strikers in world cricket, with her 163 runs a strike rate of 158.25 – the highest among players with 100 runs or more – at the 2020 T20 World Cup pivotal to India’s run to the final.
Twenty of the 24 overseas signings for the Women’s Hundred have already been announced, with confirmation of Ellyse Perry’s involvement in March making her the 11th Australian player to sign on, in addition to the five South Africans, two New Zealanders, and two West Indies players.