The BCCI has granted No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to four Indian cricketers to play in the inaugural ” The Hundred” tournament, in the UK starting on July 21. India opener Smriti Mandhana, T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur and all-rounder Deepti Sharma are among the four bound for the 100-ball tournament.

The name of the fourth player is not yet known. “Harmanpreet, Mandhana, Deepti and another player have got the clearance as the BCCI has granted the NOC for them,” a BCCI source said to PTI on conditions of anonymity. These players will stay even after their series against England, scheduled in June-July. The tour will begin with a one-off Test at Bristol on June 16 and concludes with the third and final T20I on July 15.

A three-match ODI series is slotted in between as well. The Indian team for the tour is yet to be announced while a new head coach is expected to be named soon by the BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee. India will play multi-day cricket after 7 years and will look to continue their victorious run in Test against England.

The selected players will report on May 27, though it is not known how they will travel to the UK as flights from India have been suspended by the British government in the wake of an unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases. “The players will be asked to report on May 27 for the tour,” the source further added.

India players like Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma and Jemimah Rodrigues was earlier part of the overseas franchise like WBBL in Australia and took part in the now-defunct Kia Super League (KSL) in England as well. While Smriti’s performance with Western Strom was instrumental in 2018, where she has scored 421 runs with a strike rate of 174, becoming the highest run-getter of the league, in 2019 she scored 268 runs.

Jemimah, on the other hand, became the first player to score a hundred in KSL from her side, Yorkshire Diamonds in 2019 while scoring 401 runs with a strike rate of 149. Deepti Sharma too added a handy contribution for the Western Strom in 2019 as well.

All these players have signed in the Australian league as well. Though they were not seen in action in the last two WBBL seasons, Harmanpreet Kaur has been a crucial member of Sydney Thunders while Smriti Mandhana after her horrible stint with Brisbane Heats, recovered well for Hobert Hurricanes.

While in India, the franchise-based league is a distant dream and prominent cricketers only get a  window of four match mini-tournament during the IPL playoffs, earlier cricketers like Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana gave credit to the foreign leagues for their development.

On her unbeaten knock of 171 against Australia in the 2017 World Cup Semi-Final Harmanpreet said to the media, “From the very beginning, I loved batting aggressively and that helped me in BBL. There were many fine cricketers in WBBL and I got to learn a lot from them, their batting. Those things helped me later on in South Africa as well as during World Cup. Like I and Smriti [Mandhana] got to play in BBL, I would want more cricketers to get a chance to play in BBL as they will get to learn a lot from the experience, which in turn will help the team grow.”

Smriti Mandhana on the other hand in her chat to TOI in 2018 gave credit to the WBBL and the KSL for her success. She said

“Both are good leagues, and playing in them has helped me improve my game in the T20 format. I have been exposed to different kinds of bowling. It’s a great learning opportunity to also grow as a person and understand my game better in alien conditions,”

While almost all the sides have filled their overseas players’ quota four teams with one vacant overseas spot each are Southern Brave, London Spirit, Manchester Originals and Northern Superchargers. The Hundred, which was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will kick off with the women’s match between the Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals in London before their respective men’s sides meet the following day.

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