Harmanpreet Bhullar (27), on Friday became the first Indian woman cricket player to be selected to play for Sydney Thunders in the Women’s Big Bash League (BBL), Australia’s domestic T-20 cricket league. “Main shabda ch byaan nahi kar sakda apni khushi (I cannot describe my feelings on this achievement),” Harmandar Bhullar, her father, told The Indian Express from her home in Moga.
“When she was born, had brought a suit with cricket words on it. Some years later, she started playing the game with boy trainees at the college ground. Initially, it was tough for us as the bats were costly and we could not afford them. But later, she would play for Punjab at a young age and also made her debut for the India while in high school.”
“I am feeling good about being picked up by Sydney Thunders in the Big Bash League. It’s an exciting opportunity to play with foreign women cricketers and I am happy that my hard work has paid off. I am waiting to land in Australia, said Harmanpreet who is in Pune for a training camp.
“When she picked up her jersey, she chose the jersey number 84. For Punjabis, 84 brings back the memories of the 1984 riots. But she took it positively and now we also see it as a good sign for her,” said Harmanpreet’s mother Sukhjeet Kaur. “She dedicates all her victories to the victims of the riots.”
A young Bhullar was spotted by coach Kamaldeesh Singh Sodhi and would train under him at the Guru Nanak Public School, Moga. The cricketer would travel 20 km from her Basant Singh Road residence to Barapur Pind to practice and would later also travel to Ferozepur to play for the district in the Punjab state Championships. A fine performance in 2009 Challenger trophy meant she broke into the Indian women’s team for 2009 World T-20 Championships.
“I saw her play in 2006 and got her enrolled in our school academy. Once she went to play in school nationals and hit six boundaries in an over in a full size ground. Later she would play in Punjab U-19 teams when she was 17. It was our school’s annual function when she got the news of her selection in the Indian team in 2009. And when she hit her first hundred in 2013 against England, the whole village celebrated her success,” shared Sodhi, whose son Yadwinder Singh Sodhi also coached Harmanpreet.
Earlier this year, Harmanpreeet played a exceptional performance in Indian women’s team campaign in the World T20, scoring 89 runs and claiming seven wickets in four matches. The all-rounder has scored 1,494 runs in 55 ODIs and 992 runs in 61 T-20s apart from claiming 24 wickets in both formats.