In front of a crowd of close to 18,000 at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium on Friday night, Harmanpreet Kaur accomplished a feat no Indian cricketer, male or female, could before. It was her 100th Twenty20 International match.
A truly remarkable hundred this has been for the 30-year-old from Punjab, who made her T20 debut against England 10 years ago at Taunton. She is not just one of the most destructive batters the women’s game has ever seen, but quite literally the game-changer for the Women in Blue - her astonishing 171 not out off 115 balls against Australia in the 2017 World Cup semifinal at Derby making people sit up and take note.
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Harmanpreet's hundredth T20 ended in disappointment for the Indian captain, though. The team tasted defeat for the first time in the series , a loss which also turned out to be India’s heaviest defeat ever in the format. Harmanpreet scored just one run in the game.
Nevertheless, India won the series 3-1 and she impressed with her captaincy. She led from the front and used her bowlers, the spinners especially – including herself – rather well. The skipper played a couple of significant knocks as well. That unbeaten 34 in the penultimate match reflected her ease with taking responsibility. She curbed her attacking instincts and chose caution to chase a low score.
“Yes, I am pretty pleased with that innings,” Harmanpreet told Sportstar. “Small totals can often be tricky; so I was determined that I would stay till the end.”
She is also happy with the way the entire team has fared. She has high hopes about the 15-year-old Shafali Verma, who made her international debut in the series.
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“She is already one of my favourite players to watch,” Harmanpreet said. “She has given us great starts in the series. With players like Jemimah Rodrigues and Shafali, the future of Indian women’s cricket is in safe hands.”
She is also pretty satisfied with the way the team’s preparation for the T20 World Cup, to be held Australia next February-March. “We have the nucleus of that team,” she said. “And we are improving.”
She is particularly glad that fielding has come a long away. “There was a time when we used to lose matches because of fielding,” she said. “That no longer is the case. And I believe it would be nice if we could also add a sports psychologist to the supporting staff.”
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