INDW vs ENGW: Perseverance pays off for Harleen Deol

Playing for the Indian national team had been Harleen Deol's aim ever since she left her home at the age of 13.

Harleen Deol failed to make an impact in her debut game, scoring two runs. Photo: Prashant Nakwe   -  Prashant Nakwe

An opportunity to play in the national team was far from her mind when Harleen Deol travelled to Mumbai for the T20 senior Nationals with her team-mates from Himachal. But one phone call changed everything.

She was asked to join the Indian team as a replacement for Harmanpreet Kaur, a batter Deol admires. And on Friday against England at the Wankhede Stadium, the 20-year-old made her international debut. “I have really worked hard to be here. It is time to take up the chance and deliver,” Harleen had told Sportstar after her selection.

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Playing for the national team has been her aim ever since she left her home in Punjab to shift to Himachal Pradesh in order to pursue cricket seriously. It hadn't been easy for her to leave behind her parents at the age of 13 and shift to a new city, but Harleen took up the challenge and got herself enrolled at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association’s U-19 residential academy.

Bucketful of runs

Harleen had had a fruitful outing at the Challenger Trophy. Playing for India Red, she had amassed 119 runs in three matches, and in the warm-up match against England, she had scored 21. That compelled the selectors to give her a go.

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It wasn't her first experience playing an international side. Last year, she was picked for India A’s warm-up matches against England. Though she could not make a mark then, it helped Harleen prepare better. The big moment wasn't too far away. “My grandmother (Gurudev Kaur) wanted me to play for India and here I am now,” Harleen said. She also credits her mother Charanjit Deol, who worked at Greater Mohali Area Development Authority, for backing her.

It wasn't a fairy-tale debut, however. She played seven balls and scored two runs, before being caught out. But the big fan of Shane Warne — who believed in never giving up — hopes to come back stronger in the next fixture on Monday.