9 runs needed off the final over. Rumana Ahmed at the non-striker’s end. All overs by the spinners already done, Shikha Pandey injured and Jhulan Goswami struggling, having already given 3 consecutive fours in the last over she bowled. In comes the skipper, with the ball and almost does the unthinkable, as she has many times before. Although this time around, she couldn’t take her team to the winning position even after scoring half of the total runs of the team and taking 2 wickets. How can one describe India’s T20 captain, Harmanpreet Kaur? A Big Match Player!
Let me take you 16 months back. The finals of the Qualifiers of the World Cup. 244 on board. 8 needed off the last 2 balls. The India captain for the match, Harmanpreet Kaur hits a SIX to Marcia Letsoalo on the penultimate ball. The final ball, she charges down the track, converts into a full toss and sends it to the long-on region, winning the game for India with one wicket in hand.
A few months later, in the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup 2017, the India ODI vice-captain scored an innings which even non-women’s cricket viewers remember. Spending nearly 150 minutes at the crease, Kaur hit 20 fours and 7 maximums, racing towards an unbeaten 171 in just 115 balls, at a strike rate of nearly 149, ensuring India post a comfortable score in a curtailed game, and almost single-handedly taking them to the finals of the World Cup at Lord’s.
The Moga-born girl has already faced a lot of criticism for throwing her wicket at important times but has always fought the odds and shown why she is an asset to the Indian team. In a career spanning nearly a decade, Kaur has scored 2196 runs at an average of 35.41 in ODIs and 1557 runs at an average of 27.31 in T20Is. 2017 was a breakthrough year for Kaur, as she scored 393 runs at an average of 56.14 in ODIs. Although 2018 didn’t start on a good note, with a streak of bad performances in the series against Proteas in South Africa and then Australia and England at home, she came back to form when the team needed her the most, in the recently concluded Asia Cup, making her the Player of the Tournament for scoring 215 runs and taking 5 wickets.
Harmanpreet always leads the team from the front, be it on the field or off the field. She is always lively and full of energy, is extremely fit which was witnessed when she took two dangerous catches, one during the T20 tri-series and the other during the one-off IPL game for women. A regular in the gym, Kaur is also the only Indian to be selected to play in both the WBBL and the Kia Super League due to her power hitting skills.
When it comes to her captaincy, she has captained in 5 ODIs, scoring 245 runs at an average of 81.66 and in 26 T20Is, scoring 627 runs at an average of 36.88. In the 5 ODI games she has captained, she came out victorious in 4, while in T20Is, the team has lost only 10 games in the 26 T20Is she has captained!
So, what’s on the plate now, for this fiery Indian all-rounder? Fitness and batting camps, a tour of Sri Lanka and the World T20 in the Caribbean later this year. It’s time for the brave one to regroup the team, work on the crucial issues, build the team and lead them to their first major ICC tournament cup!