Deepti Sharma, the India Women allrounder, has shifted from Uttar Pradesh to Bengal for the 2017-18 domestic season.
Wisden India understands that Deepti was weighing up offers from Railways and Baroda as well, but eventually signed up with Bengal. The move was confirmed by a Cricket Association of Bengal spokesperson and representatives for the player.
“Bengal is already a strong team, since we have a player like Jhulan Goswami. Yet, to have a genuine allrounder and upcoming cricketer will boost our strength,” said Jayanta Ghosh Dastidar, the Bengal women’s coach.
“The shift to Bengal is a boon for her as she will get to play with some international cricketers including Jhulan Goswani, who is a living legend. This will develop her game,” said Rita Dey, the former India cricketer and Deepti’s mentor.
Goswami welcomed the move as an “exciting” one for the state’s cricket. “It will benefit Bengal cricket to have such a talented youngster, who has already established herself in international cricket. It will motivate younger girls to learn the good things from her.
“We’ll welcome her [so] that she’ll feel comfortable and play freely and enjoy her cricket.”
Bengal finished third in Plate Group B in last season’s one-day competition and their aim is to climb back up to the Elite division. They are in the Elite division in the T20 competition, where they finished behind Railways.
As part of their preparation for the senior season, they have played friendly games against Himachal Pradesh. “Our primary goal is to rise back up to the Elite group,” said Dastidar.
Deepti reportedly also attracted interest from Women’s Big Bash League franchises, but with no concrete deal yet, she is likely to be available for the domestic games and join the Bengal side after a 10-day national camp.
A left-hand batter who bowls offspin, the 20-year-old was on the International Cricket Council’s team of the tournament for the Women’s World Cup 2017 for her 216 runs and 12 wickets. Going into the tournament in England, she also scored an Indian record 188 in a One-Day International against Ireland in South Africa. She also holds the second-best bowling figures by an Indian woman in ODIs: 6 for 20 against Sri Lanka.
Deepti won the 2016-17 Board of Control for Cricket in India award for the best junior female cricketer (2015-16). She led the Under-19 India Green team last year in the Challenger Trophy when they nearly caused an upset against the senior India Blue side.
Her shift from her home state is a high-profile one, and rare in women’s domestic cricket, especially for a player at the start of her career. This year will also see Harmanpreet Kaur, India’s T20 captain, move from Railways to Punjab, and Sushma Verma, India’s wicketkeeper, shift back to her home state of Himachal Pradesh from Railways, marking a significant shake-up.
“Since India’s World Cup performance, a lot has changed. Everybody’s thinking about women’s cricket has changed. The association too is more involved than ever and they are supporting us with more matches,” explained Dastidar.
The senior women’s one-day competition begins on December 6.
With inputs from Sidhanta Patnaik.