Indian Opener Smriti Mandhana joins Western Storms in the Kia Super League

Indian Opener Smriti Mandhana joins Western Storms in the Kia Super League

What's the story?

21-year-old Indian opener for the women's team, Smriti Mandhana is all set to become the first Indian player to feature in the Kia Super League (KSL), the annual women's T20 cricket league organised by the ECB (England Cricket Board), as she was snapped up by defending-champions Western Storm, the south-west-England based team for the third edition of the tournament slated to begin later this year.

The details

Earlier this evening, Western Storm took to Twitter to announce the news of their latest signing:

After securing the signing, Head Coach Trevor Griffin said: “We are really excited that Smriti will be joining us. She is one of the brightest young talents in the game at the moment. Although she is still young, she has a great deal of experience of the game at the highest level and we believe that she will prove to be an excellent signing.”

“I am very excited to be playing for the Kia Super League champions. To be the first Indian player to appear in the tournament is a real honour and I hope that I can help Western Storm to more success,” said Smriti after putting pen to paper.

In case you didn't know...

The Women's Cricket Super League (WCSL) is better known as the Kia Super League for sponsorship reasons and is a semi-professional competition held in England and Wales, by the ECB, similar to the likes of the IPL or the Australian Big Bash. The competition began with its inaugural season in 2016. It launched with six teams playing in a Twenty-20 format only, with the intention of adding a 50-over competition from 2017 onwards. In July 2017, the ECB announced that plans for the 50-over women's league was scrapped, with the KSL expanding starting from 2018 with each of the six teams to play ten group-stage games (home-and-away with every other team) as opposed to five in previous seasons. The format would remain to be T20s itself.

The Southern Vipers were the first champions of the WCSL, with Heather Knight-led Western Storms capturing the title last year. The Storms will be looking to defend their title, and Smriti would be a vital cog in their machine.

The young Indian southpaw, often noted as one of the greatest future prospects of the game itself, has scored over 826 runs with an average of 23.6 and a high score of 76 in the 40 T20Is that she has played in. She has also scored 1464 runs in 41 ODIs at an average of 37.53 with a high score of 135.

In addition to her impressive international exploits, she has also featured in the Big Bash for Brisbane Heat and captained IPL Trailblazers in the recent Women’s IPL T20 challenge which took place last month as part of the Indian Premier League (IPL). By signing for Western Storm, she will become the first Indian player to appear in the KSL.

What's next?

The 2018 KSL will begin on 22nd July 2018, with Western Stars playing Yorkshire Diamonds in the same day, Game No. 3 at 3:30 pm IST.

Smriti will be looking to play big in her new role, after having a disappointing outing in the recently concluded Women's Asia Cup T20I series, where she scored just 90 runs in 6 innings as India surrendered to Bangladesh in the finals, handing them their first major trophy. Storms, on the other hand, will be looking to exploit the presence of the gutsy opener to supplement their efforts to defend the throne.

What do you think of Smriti Mandhana's new role? How will her signing play a role in Western Storms' game-plan for next season? Lend us your thoughts in the comments below:

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