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Harmanpreet named player of tournament in WBBL-7, Sydney Thunder batter Phoebe Litchfield Best Young Player

Harmanpreet Kaur. Photo: Cricket Australia

Melbourne, Nov 24 (MNN) Melbourne Renegades import and India’s T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur has been named Player of the Tournament for WBBL-07.

Up-and-coming Sydney Thunder batter Phoebe Litchfield has been named the competition’s Best Young Player.

Harmanpreet denied Sophie Devine a third-straight Player of the Tournament award as the all-rounder took out the tournament’s top individual honour after a campaign that has seen her top both the batting and bowling tallies for her club, scoring 399 runs at a strike rate of 135.25 in 11 innings, and taking 15 wickets at 20.4 with her off-spin.

Kaur, who has previously played for the Sydney Thunder and made a much-anticipated return to the Weber WBBL this season after a two-year absence, is the first India player to take out the honour.

She has been an absolute force with the bat, hitting a competition-best 18 sixes, while she has also thrived with the ball in the Powerplay having taken on an extra bowling load following the season-ending injury to the club’s star leg-spinner, Georgia Wareham.

Votes were awarded on a 3-2-1 basis by both standing umpires at the end of every match, meaning a player can receive up to six votes per match.

Kaur polled 31 votes to finish ahead of Perth Scorchers opening batters Beth Mooney and Sophie Devine, who polled 28 votes apiece, while Brisbane Heat pair Grace Harris (25) and Georgia Redmayne (24) rounded out the top five.

Devine had won the award in the past two seasons.

Kaur did not bat in the Renegades’ most recent match (a 43-run loss to Brisbane Heat on Saturday night) due to illness.

But the all-rounder has quelled any speculation she might miss Thursday night’s ‘Challenger’ encounter at the Adelaide Oval, the winner of which will progresses through to the WBBL|07 Final.

Litchfield, 18, joins a star-studded list of players to win the tournament’s Young Gun award, all of whom have since debuted for Australia: Lauren Cheatle, Ashleigh Gardner, Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham, Hannah Darlington and Darcie Brown.

Tellingly, the Young Gun award – for players aged 21 or under during the tournament – is chosen by national selector Shawn Flegler.

The teenager from Orange was promoted to number 3 this season by the Thunder and handed greater responsibility in the absence of captain Rachael Haynes and English batter Heather Knight, who played key roles in their WBBL|06 title win.

The left-hander, who debuted aged 16 in WBBL|05, hit 263 runs at an average of 21.91 and a strike rate of 109.12 with a season-best score of 49.

She finished as the Thunder’s second most prolific batter behind India superstar Smriti Mandhana.

Litchfield’s most entertaining knock came against the Heat when she belted 40 off just 28 balls, and when she managed to get off to a good start, was able to strike above 100 (an improvement on her previous tournament strike rates of 96 and 99).

Her performances came despite entering the WBBL off a long winter where she was unable to travel to train with her NSW Breakers teammates due to the state’s lockdown, instead facing only throwdowns from her father on the synthetic pitch they built in their backyard several years ago.

Even more impressively, Litchfield was completing her Year 12 exams while travelling with the Thunder this season.

The teenager was recently described as an “exceptional talent” by Mandhana.

“I’ve been watching her closely,” the Indian said following the Thunder’s Sydney Smash victory over the Sixers.

“I think she’s exceptional, she’s very young but she has all the shots in her game which is very rare as an 18-year-old.

“More than that, the way she thinks about the game and the way she approaches it, it’s very refreshing to see.

“Not many people are gifted with that (level) of high energy and intensity.”

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