Melbourne Renegades have called on the services of big-hitting Sri Lanka star Chamari Athapaththu as they look to snatch a spot in the Rebel WBBL finals.
Athapaththu, who lit up North Sydney Oval with a whirlwind T20I century against the Australians in late September, comes into the Renegades squad for their final match of the regular season.
She replaces English international Tammy Beaumont, who will be unavailable for the Big Bash finals weekend if the Renegades do advance.
Both Beaumont and fellow Englishwoman Danni Wyatt, who will play this weekend, depart for a limited-overs series against Pakistan in Malaysia on Monday.
Bringing in Athapaththu, who struck 113 from 61 deliveries in Sydney and followed up with a one-day ton against the world No.1 Australians a week later, for this weekend ensures she will be qualified for finals, if the Renegades do advance.
"She’s an international, world-class player," Renegades captain Jess Duffin said on Saturday.
"We saw that when she came out against Australia and everyone was asking why she wan’t playing in the Big Bash.
"She’s going to be a really big asset and to have her at the top of the order is really going to help."
The Renegades sit two points clear of the fifth-ranked Sixers after their narrow thrilling win over the Stars on Saturday.
They played the bottom-ranked Stars on Saturday at Junction Oval ahead of a showdown with the Sydney Thunder, who sit sixth, on Sunday.
The Sixers, meanwhile, must play the in-form Adelaide Strikers twice this weekend.
Athapaththu was given a Renegades contract in WBBL|03 – shortly after scoring a brilliant World Cup century against Australia in Bristol – but failed to make a significant impact on the competition, scoring 175 runs at 15.9.
The Renegades are not the only team to be impacted by the unavailability of international players this season.
The Scorchers, who sit third and are all-but assured of playing in the semi-finals, will lose top-order England pair Amy Jones and Natalie Sciver.
With no late replacements to be called in, they will field just one import, Irish quick Kim Garth, for the play offs.
The Thunder lost Pakistan allrounder Nida Dar earlier this week when she was called in early for the series against England.
Speaking to cricket.com.au last week, Australia great Mel Jones called for international boards to work together to ensure there was a clear window in the cricket calendar for leading domestic tournaments including the WBBL, and England’s Hundred.
"We need to find a way for the national bodies to work together and plan the international calendar out in advance a little bit more, so players know where they’re going to be 24 months in advance," Jones said.
"I think (at the moment) some of the other nations probably aren’t thinking outside of getting their national teams playing more, so then they don’t think about what else could be impacted (by their scheduling).
"Hopefully this can be an awareness campaign to say this is where world cricket is at, and we’d love to have players from Bangladesh and Pakistan play more and more in WBBL, but for that to happen we need to clear these windows."