India’s Shafali Verma signed as Sophie Devine’s replacement by Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred

The new 100-ball competition, which starts with a standalone women’s fixture at the Kia Oval on July 21, will now feature five Indian superstars: Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Jemimah Rodrigues and Verma.

With the logistical difficulties thrown up by COVID-19, Devine has opted out of the competition in order to be in the best position to prepare for international cricket, particularly with the ICC Women’s World Cup due to be held in her native New Zealand in February.

Ben Sawyer, women’s team Head Coach for Birmingham Phoenix, said: “Whilst we’re naturally disappointed to lose Sophie, securing the world’s number one WT20I batter, in Shafali, as a replacement is a great boost to the squad as we look ahead to our tournament preparations.

“Shafali may be only 17, but she’s already experienced a huge amount in the game including an ICC T20 World Cup final. With a strike rate of 148.31, she’ll be a fantastic asset at the top of the order as we look to maximise the powerplay,” Sawyer added further.

Kaur – India’s T20I captain – will play for Manchester Originals, and therefore star in the competition opener. Kaur’s T20I deputy, Mandhana is set to form a devastating opening partnership with Danni Wyatt at Southern Brave.

All-rounder Deepti Sharma will join England captain Heather Knight at London Spirit and Jemimah Rodrigues will be in the purple of Northern Superchargers.

Beth Barrett-Wild, Head of The Hundred Women’s Competition, said: “It’s so good to finally be able to confirm the involvement of some of the superstars from the India team.

“They’re a hugely exciting group of players and they’ll bring a lot to the competition. “I can’t wait for July 21, I can’t wait for the whole competition, and I can’t wait for fans to see these world-class players doing what they do best.”

Manchester Originals batter Harmanpreet Kaur said: “It’s very exciting that I’m going to get to play in the first-ever game of The Hundred. “It will be special to make history, especially with a women’s match at such a big ground. We’ve played in front of some large crowds in India and it’s always a great experience for the players.”

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