Indian duo of Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma have signed for the Sydney Thunder in the Women’s Big Bash League, the defending champions announced on Sunday.

The two players have been named as replacements for English duo Heather Knight and Tammy Beaumont who will be unavailable to play in the upcoming edition of the WBBL.

This will be Mandhana’s third sting in the WBBL having previously featured for Brisbane Heat and Hobart Hurricanes. As for Sharma, it will be her first appearance in the Australian T20 league. Sharma though played in the inaugural edition of The Hundred in England where she bagged ten wickets apart from her experience in the erstwhile Kia Super League.

Sydney Thunder coach, Trevor Griffin, felt his team’s title defence had received an extra edge with additions of Madhana and Sharma.

“She’s world class,” said Griffin, of Mandhana.

“Smriti is an opening batter who has the tremendous ability to take everything in her stride. I like that she keeps her game really simple; she just wants to score runs. I’m delighted to have her on board, and I have no doubt that she’ll prove to be a great addition to Thunder,” he added.

Incidentally, Griffin was also the coach of Western Storm in the Kia Super League, the team that Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma played for in England.

Griffin also heaped praise on Sharma who played a brilliant knock in India’s narrow defeat to Australia in the second ODI.

“While it’s disappointing not to be able to have Heather back, if you could choose any replacement for her it would be Deepti – she’s also a star,” said Griffin.

“She offers a lot with the bat – Deepti is a match winner – and she also has the talent to bowl in the powerplay, during the middle of a match, or at the death.” he added.

Sharma revealed that it was always her goal to play in the WBBL and is delighted to have got the chance.

“This is my first time [in the WBBL], so I’m excited,” she said.

“I’ve had offers before, but I couldn’t play at the time because at the time we had [an international] series. It’s a big thing for Indian women’s cricket that we have the opportunity to play in the WBBL. We have to express ourselves in the competition,” Sharma said.

Sydney Thunder begin their title defence against the Adelaide Strikers on Saturday, October 16. Sharma and Mandhana are the first two Indian signings to be confirmed for the upcoming edition.