In a major development ahead of WPL 2024, UP Warriorz signed legendary all-rounder Chamari Athapaththu as a replacement for pacer Lauren Bell on Friday, January 26. The English star has withdrawn from the second edition of the tournament due to unknown reasons.
Chamari, who won the ICC Women’s ODI Player of the Year 2023 award this week, surprisingly went unsold in the player auction last month. But the Sri Lankan skipper is set to make her first appearance in the Women’s Premier League starting on February 23.
The 33-year-old was the second-highest run-getter in the Women’s Big Bash League 2023 and also bagged the Player of the Tournament award. She is currently playing for Northern Districts in the Women’s Super Smash 2023-24.
Chamari also ranks in the top ten in the ICC ODI and T20I batter’s standings but it was not enough for her to attract interest in the WPL 2024 auction.
However, the veteran spin all-rounder is likely to face a tough challenge to break into playing eleven for each game. Sophie Ecclestone, Alyssa Healy, Tahlia McGrath and Grace Harris are all likely to fill four overseas slots in the playing eleven for the majority of the season.
“English fast bowler Lauren Bell has withdrawn from the upcoming season of the TATA Women’s Premier League 2024 and UP Warriorz have named Sri Lanka’s Chamari Athapaththu as a replacement for Bell,” WPL’s media advisory statement said.” Among the most powerful hitters in the game, the Lankan captain is also one of the most experienced players, having featured in over 120 T20Is. Known for her attacking batting, Chamari is the only Lankan woman to have scored a century in T20Is. She has been signed for her base price of INR 30 lakh.”
Bell didn’t make a single appearance last season with Shabnim Ismail being the first-choice overseas pacer.