The lowdown on Harmanpreet Kaur

Harmanpreet Kaur (File photo)   | Photo Credit: G.P. Sampath Kumar

Harmanpreet Kaur played the innings of her life on Thursday when she blazed an unbeaten 171 off just 115 balls in the Women’s World Cup semi-final against defending champions Australia in Derby. The right-hander hit 20 fours and seven sixes, reached her century in just 90 balls, and took just 17 deliveries to get from 100 to 150. That the next highest score of the innings was just 36 (by captain Mithali Raj), just showed how Kaur bossed the innings.

Kaur’s 171 is the second-highest score by an Indian batsman in women’s one-day internationals, behind Deepti Sharma’s 188 scored earlier this year.

In a match reduced to 42 overs a side, attack was the only way to go. Walking in at the tenth over when India lost their second wicket at 35, Kaur began patiently. She reached her fifty off 64 balls, and India at that stage were looking to build steadily. Kaur then constructed a skyscraper in double quick time to leave the Australians deflated ahead of the chase.

That Kaur pulled off an innings like this shouldn’t surprise anyone. She was due for something big. In fact, she had had a very ordinary tournament coming into this game, with scores of 2, 3, 24, 10, 20, 0, 23 and 60. Her team-mates Raj, Smriti Mandhana and Punam Raut had made hefty contributions. As for Kaur, something had to give.

What makes Harmanpreet Kaur indispensable?

A right-handed top-order batsman, Kaur is capable of hitting long sixes. Growing up in Moga, a small town in Punjab, Kaur had to travel 30km from her place to train at an academy. She moved to Mumbai in 2014 where she worked for Western Railway. Living in a big city was a challenge for Kaur and she contemplated moving back, but former India batsman Diana Edulji convinced her not to give up easily.

Kaur made her India debut in 2009, during the World Cup in Australia. In only her eighth one-day game, she walked in with India tottering at 26 for 4 against England and went on to score 84. She scored her two one-day centuries in 2013, the first against England and the second against Bangladesh.

Kaur was appointed India’s T20 captain in November 2016, taking over from Mithali Raj. She played a starring role in a T20 against Australia in January 2016, scoring a 31-ball 46 to help India to record its highest ever T20 chase.

Her strong performances as an aggressive top-order player caught the attention of franchise scouts from Australia.

Kaur has emerged as one of the most sought-after Indian woman cricketers, with offers coming in from franchises in England and Australia. In July 2016, Kaur made history by becoming the first woman cricketer from India to sign for an overseas T20 franchise, when she joined Sydney Thunder in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL).

In May this year, Kaur became the first woman from India to sign for England’s domestic Twenty20 tournament, the Kia Super League. The 28-year-old signed for Surrey Stars for the upcoming season, starting August 2017.

The woman’s game in India is yet to have an Indian Premier League (IPL) style tournament, one that the players believe would do wonders for the recognition of the game in the country. Australia took the lead by starting the WBBL, with England following suit in 2016 with the Super League. When the Board of Control for Cricket in India finally sanctioned the participation of their women players for overseas leagues, it was a breakthrough for talented players like Kaur. Soon after, her team-mate Mandhana signed for Brisbane Heat.

Kaur had offers from three teams, but settled on Sydney Thunder because she felt more opportunities would come her way since the franchise had only one other overseas player. It proved a wise choice and she impressed by scoring 296 runs in 12 matches and was named Sydney Thunder’s WBBL Player of the Tournament.

Kaur is also a part-time offspinner and she has 43 international wickets till date.

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 10:48:31 PM |

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