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Harmanpreet Kaur signs with Sydney Thunder for WBBL

Harmanpreet Kaur was on the radar of three WBBL franchises ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Harmanpreet Kaur became the first India Women's cricketer to be signed by an overseas Twenty20 franchise after inking a deal with the WBBL champions Sydney Thunder for the 2016-17 season.

The confirmation on Saturday ends speculation that began with Anurag Thakur, the BCCI president, announcing in June that Harmanpreet had sealed the deal.

"We are delighted to secure a player of the calibre of Harmanpreet," Nick Cummins, the Sydney Thunder's general manager, said on Saturday. "She was on the top of our target list, and we are very pleased that the BCCI has released her to play in Australia.

"Sydney Thunder prides itself on being an innovator in Australian cricket, so it is a real fillip for the club to have signed the first Indian international to play Big Bash cricket in Australia."

Harmanpreet, India Women's vice-captain, is said to have received an offer from three teams - including the Sydney Sixers, the runners-up in the inaugural season - before zeroing in on the Thunder.

With a cap of two overseas players allowed in the playing XI of each side, Harmanpreet said her interest in the Thunder was driven by her desire to get significant match time. Currently, Stafanie Taylor, West Indies Women's World T20-winning captain, is the only other overseas professional on their roster.

"It's a great feeling" Harmanpreet was quoted as saying in a press release. "The WBBL is a great platform for women's cricketers. Being the first player from my country to sign a contract for a BBL club is one of my best moments.

"I was looking at a franchise where I would have opportunities to showcase my talent. That's why I was keen on Sydney Thunder. My aim is to serve my team to win the WBBL title for the second time in a row. Playing with the best players against the best players is always a great feeling. I would definitely learn a lot of things from them all."

Harmanpreet, 27, has featured in 118 internationals across formats, and impressed during India's tour of Australia in January, when she made a 31-ball 46 to help India record their highest-ever T20 chase. She was one of India's better performers in a disappointing World T20 campaign at home in March-April.