Harmanpreet Kaur is set to become the first India Women's cricketer to be signed by an overseas Twenty20 franchise. Sydney Thunder, the reigning Women's Big Bash League champions, are interested in recruiting her for the second edition of the Australian T20 league which is scheduled to be played in December.
The BCCI had cleared the women players to participate in overseas leagues earlier this month and its president Anurag Thakur said on Friday that the deal between Thunder and Harmanpreet had been sealed.
However, the club's general manager Nick Cummins, while confirming their interest in Harmanpreet, said the contract had not yet been signed. Reportedly, Harmanpreet has received verbal permission from the BCCI but is waiting for her No-objection certificate before agreeing to play.
It is understood that Harmanpreet, an allrounder and India's vice-captain, received an offer from three teams - including the Sydney Sixers, the runners-up in the inaugural season - before zeroing in on the Thunder.
"I think we saw in the Indian team some very dynamic players, including Veda Krishnamurthy and Harmanpreet Kaur, I think these two stood out," Alex Blackwell, the Thunder captain, had said earlier. "We have a pretty solid team... but we have an opportunity to bring another overseas players in and we'll be looking to spend that spot wisely. Hopefully we'll get one of the best players around the world."
Blackwell's comments came after India recorded their first-ever bilateral series win in Australia, beating the then champions 2-1 in the T20 series ahead of the World T20. Harmanpreet contributed a 31-ball 46 in a historic chase in the series opener. She was a standout performer in a disappointing World T20 campaign for India, scoring 89 runs and taking seven wickets in four outings.
India captain Mithali Raj and fast bowler Jhulan Goswami were approached by the Adelaide Strikers for the inaugural edition of the tournament last year, but had to turn down the offer after the BCCI refused to grant permission, citing the need for top players to take part in the domestic women's T20 league, which was being televised for the first time.
Since then, the board has introduced central contracts for 11 women players and set in motion a slew of reforms recommended by the Lodha committee, which was appointed by the Supreme Court of India to look into the functioning of the board.
GMT 1630 The article was amended to reflect that negotiations were on-going between Sydney Thunder and Harmanpreet Kaur
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo