In the 2017 World Cup, Harmanpreet Kaur was not in great touch prior to the do-or-die match against New Zealand. Her batting order was not fixed too. It was moved up and down according to the need of the hour. She got an earful from disappointed Diana Edulji who reminded her of her lack of touch in the World Cup. That resulted in a 60 from 70 balls.
Indian physio Tracy says that Harmampreet has a lion’s heart. Rightly so. Harmanpreet who had been playing the tournament with a dislocated left ring finger from 2nd game was hit by Hannah Rowe in the 26th over. Despite the agony, not only batted but steered India out of the danger. She was not able to grip the bat properly bat but that did not stop her to play the innings of her life in the next match.
Semifinal match against Australia, and the world witnessed ‘that’ innings, which became the center of discussion for years to come. In a rain-curtailed match, her unbeaten 171 against a dominant Australian attack tilted the match in favour of India. None of the bowlers and no sides of the ground were speared that day by the girl from Moga.
India was 185/3 at the end of the 35th over and she got her 2nd fifty in just 26 balls. Australia threw everything at Kaur and she dealt those with disdain. Ash Gardner who was economical in her 7 overs came to bowl the 36th over. Deepti gave the strike back to Harman after the first ball. And in the next 5 balls, Gardner conceded more runs (22) than she had conceded in her previous 7 overs (20). Two sixes followed by two fours.
While the sixes were hit through the mid-wicket regions, the fours bisected the offside field. The devastated look at Gardner’s face depicted the whole story. Schutt, Villani, Jonassen all were torn apart. Kaur took 17 more balls after her century (0,0,4,6,6,4,4,2,0,4,4,0,6,4,1,4,1) to reach her 150-run mark. India added 96 runs in the last 7 overs out of which 71 came off 25 balls from the blades of Harmanpreet Kaur.
She ended her innings with an unbeaten 171 in 115 balls with a strike-rate of close to 150. She became the highest individual scorer for India in World Cup and the highest Individual scorer in knockouts. India finished with a mammoth total of 281, their highest total against Australia where Kaur scored 60% of the runs of her team and 71% of her runs came in boundaries.
7 sixes against the World champions not only projected the muscular power of a women cricketer even with a broken finger but at the same time broke the prejudices and glass ceiling of gender biases. As Harman Walked off the field, head, held high, acknowledging the crowd, despite the cramps, all physical and mental pains were forgotten for a moment. Moreover, that century came after 4 years.
In the final, she came out to bat at no. 4, in the 13th over after the fall of Mithali Raj. Two down is always her preferrable batting position. Even in that world cup, she told the management that she want to bat up the order. Rather than being in a situation where she barely got any time to settle down, she wanted to spend the time in the middle. The World Cup Final was a perfect moment for her. Her 60 against do or die match against NZ and unbeaten 171 against Australia means she had got her momentum.
Chasing a total of 229, Punam Raut and Harmanpeet’s partnership of 95 runs in 128 balls brought India back into the match. Only 91 needed from 17 overs with 7 wickets in hand- it looked like India was in control. Harman completed another half-century in 78 balls with three boundaries and two sixes. Duo’s control in the middle overs, reignited hope but as India lost 7 wickets in just 28 runs, another setback crept in.
Now after the World Cup, India’s first encounter was against South Africa. In the 2nd match of the series, where Smriti Mandhana completed her third ODI hundred, Harman made a brisk unbeaten 55 from 31 balls. Both of them added 134 for the 3rd wicket, and her onslaught helped India to go past the 300 run mark. India comprehensively won the match by 178 runs.
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In the subsequent series, her runs in the international matches seemed to dry up. Despite batting in her favourite no 4 her best was 25, till she was moved down to no 5 in the series against New Zealand in 2019. Deepti Sharma was promoted up the order. After winnings two matches of the series, chasing, India was batting first in the last match of the series. Deepti Sharma hit 52 but India failed to reach the 150 run mark. Harman’s contribution was 24 from 40 balls before getting out to offspinner Anna Peterson.
Harman though failed to convert her start, there were a couple of ’30s and ’40s which on some of the occasions was crucial in the context of the match. In the series against South Africa in 2019, India needed 248 to win the 2nd match of the innings. In absence of Smriti Mandhana, Punam Raut and Mithali Raj’s 129 run partnership gave stability to the side, While Harmanpreet Kaur chipped in with an unbeaten 39 from 27 balls. As Mithali and Raut fell in quick succession, Kaur hit three boundaries to Ismail in an over to release the pressure. At the same time, it also omitted any chance that South Africa might have seen. A couple of over later, she hit Khaka a six and ended the match by sending her consecutive time to the boundary in the 48th over.
The next match was a tight encounter, where India went to win the match by 6 runs, Kaur contributed with 38. A 46 against West Indies and she again fell short of a half-century before the sporting events came to a standstill due to Covid-19 Pandemic.
She showed the sign of making a comeback in the series against South Africa in 2021. When the entire batting unit collapsed in the series and South Africa beat India, Harmanpreet scored 160 runs in 4 innings. 40 and 36 were followed by 54 in the 4th match of the series. Though Punam Raut hit unbeaten 104, Hamanpreet’s 54 from 37 was an entertaining one. She came out to bat at 38th over and started with a boundary in the first ball she faced.
Tumi Sekhukhune conceded another boundary in the same over. She destroyed Tumi Sekhukhune in that innings. Another couple of boundaries followed in the next over. Harmanpreet completed her half-century 33 balls sending Sekhukhune into the stand. Though India lost the match and series, Harman’s form assured India. It was Kaur’s first half-century after 2018.
36 runs in three matches mean Harmanpreet Kaur failed to continue her touch in England while she missed the Australian series. In three matches against New Zealand, her score was 10, 10, and 13. In the last 7 matches, she failed to reach to ’20s, and the Indian management who were looking for the best combination dropped her in the 4th match.
She admitted she was going into her shell when she was struggling with form. One of her biggest supporters Daina Eduji also prescribed dropping her as the stalwart of the Indian cricket felt that Harman has been surviving on that knock. Harman also felt that her 171* actually created a lot of expectations. And her 30-40 was not enough to match that expectation. While going into the shells, she decided to speak to Dr. Mugdha Bavare, the mental-health conditioning coach who is traveling with the team. She wanted a clearer mind before going to World Cup and taking the psychologist helped her to overcome the ‘off-form’.
In the very next match, Harmanpreet Kaur made her worth count. Chasing 252 runs to win, Harmanpreet was sent two down, in the 18th over. Along with her good friend Smriti Mandhana, she started to take control of the middle overs. Harman who got out to Fran Jonas, the teenager, in the 2nd ODI, was cautious against the spinners at the beginning of her innings. Harmanpreet used the sweep to good effect for most of her innings. Anything remotely in her arc and around middle and leg was swept away towards square leg as she kept the runs flowing while rotating the strike.
24th over of the innings, Harmanpreet Kaur danced down the track and thumped the ball over deep midwicket to Frans Jonas. Her footwork and hand-eye coordination decorated the which has Kaur inscribed in it. Her trademark stroke. As she launched into that stand, Mandhana came to her and hugged her. A sense of assurance. She felt happy for her. Both of them added 64 in 11 overs to steer the Indian innings. Harman completed her 50 in 58 balls. Mithali Raj who joined her, added 72 along with her before Harman got out to Rowe. India went on to win by 6 wickets. Harmanpreet showed the sign of coming back to touch.
Harmanpreet Kaur’s ODI Runs After the 2017 WC till she was dropped in the NZ series.
|vs RSA (2018)||3||96||48||55*||1/0|
|vs Eng (2018)||2||24||12||21||0/0|
|vs Aus (2018)||3||51||17||25||0/0|
|vs SRI (2018)||2||24||17||12||0/0|
|vs NZ (2019)||1||24||24||24||0/0|
|vs RSA (2019)||2||77||77||39*||0/0|
|vs WI (2019)||3||51||23.5||46||0/0|
|vs RSA (2021)||4||160||53.33||54||1/0|
|vs Eng (2021)||3||36||12||19||0/0|
|vs NZ (2021)||3||33||11||13||1/0|
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That match was followed by the practice match against South Africa, where Kaur, hit a century. In the first match against Pakistan in World Cup, Harman fell again cheaply to the spinner. India was staggering at 50 for three in the 20th over when she came out to bat. Chasing a modest total of 261, she took 7 balls to get on the mark, as India was bottled up by the Kiwi bowlers. As asking run rate crept in and all batters struggled either to hit a boundary to find the gaps to rotate the strike, Kaur’sfirst boundary came in her 17th ball when she send Jensen behind the square. Despite wickets falling around her that did not stop her from rotating the strike or sending Amelia Kerr or Frances Mackay to the boundaries.
Even after India lost their 7th, Harmanpreet Kaur moved closer towards her half-century by muscling Hanna Rowe to the deep midwicket boundary. But the over that stood out in the entire Indian innings was the 43rd over of NZ. Jess Kerr who went for 20 in her 6 overs including a wicket, was brought back into the attack. Harman also had completed her half-century a couple of balls earlier.
As if Harman was waiting to complete her half-century to begin the onslaught. 1st ball of the over and she came down the track to hoick it over deep midwicket. A fielder was guarding for this shot but all she could do was to see the ball sailing over the fence, helplessly. The next ball from Kerr was a length ball outside off stump. Kaur dispatched it to the right of deep midwicket for another boundary. The next two balls went for dot. 10 from 4.
As she was waiting at the striker’s end her eye was steadfastly fixed on the bowler’s run-up. 5th ball of the over and it went for six in the same direction as the first six. After being given insight into her sheer power, Kaur showed that she need not hit the ball hard every time for a boundary. Shuffling across and paddling the ball angling in just behind square on the leg side, she added another boundary into her account. Though Amelia took revenge for the assault her sister faced by removing Kaur, but not before a composed 71 from 63 balls, the only silver lining in a 62 run defeat.
India was criticized after the match for their defensive approach, despite having a deeper batting. Against West Indies, who were undefeated till then, India came with a different approach. Rectifying themselves, India went to a hurried start, while Yastika and Smriti added 50 runs in 7 overs. Though they lost three quick wickets Harman and Smriti then took control of the batting.
“From the outset, I feel when her back is towards the wall, that’s when she comes the best out and that’s something which I’ve seen,” said Smriti Mandhana about Harmanpreet Kaur. “Her work ethics are up there in the whole team. She keeps going even if she does not get the results. That’s something that really gets her going. World Cups are the place where she comes good and comes big.”
109 in 107 and a record partnership of 184 runs for the 4th wicket changed the complexion of the game. It was not only a World Cup century, but it also broke the deadlock of 4 years. It was an innings that many of her fans wanted to see for a long. This century took her to the pedestal, where no other Indian was before. She now holds the record of the most century in World Cups by an Indian.
One who made her debut for India in 2009 as a bowling all-rounder once against turned out to be the dependable batter of the team. Indian T-20 captain, who has established herself as a prominent T20 batter with the passing days and became the first Indian to play in WBBL, an overseas T20 league, once again joined the ranks of swashbuckling stalwarts of the game. A century that too proved that she still has worth in the side. She now needs not to survive only on her 171*.