For an Indian women’s cricket fan, there cannot be any better news than Harmanpreet Kaur getting her mojo back. After taking over as the captain of the One-Day International team, following Mithali Raj’s retirement, there were apprehensions whether Harmanpreet would be burdened by the additional pressure of leading the 50-over side.

But the tour of Sri Lanka turned out to be rewarding for Harmanpreet and the team as India pocketed both the T20 International and ODI series, with the captain earning the Player-of-the-Tournament award in both the series. While she scored 92 runs in the three T20Is and grabbed a wicket, Harmanpreet amassed 119 in two ODI innings and scalped two wickets to brim with confidence ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

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Over the last year-and-a-half, things looked edgy for the star batter as she struggled to find momentum, which also had an impact on the team’s batting performance. But things started changing from the World Cup, held in New Zealand earlier this year, where she scored a ton and followed it up with a couple of half-centuries. While India failed to make it big, Harmanpreet’s return to form was certainly a huge boost.

Having gone through ups and downs in her career, Harmanpreet knew that the series against Sri Lanka will be crucial for her leading up to the Commonwealth Games, and she is happy to have led from the front.

“Before coming to Sri Lanka, I told myself that I will have to give 100 per cent and that it will be a very important series for me to score runs,” Harmanpreet said on Thursday, minutes after clinching the ODI series.

“I am happy that I could take a few wickets as well because I want to bowl and I am always keen to do that. Moreover, the way our team is responding makes me happy because when you have experienced players, you want to give more opportunities to them. I am glad with the way they took the responsibility. We were going back to the spinners, but when they performed, that made me relaxed and happier…”

After the World Cup debacle, India’s women’s team had camps at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, where the players could interact with VVS Laxman and pick his brains. That certainly had an impact on the team’s planning and approach, and by her own admission, those sessions with Laxman helped Harmanpreet as well.

“For me, it is always important that I enjoy each and every moment and sometimes in between, I was not enjoying because at times, you tend to take a lot of pressure. It happens with everyone and I was also going through it,” she said, explaining how challenging it was during the rough phase.

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“I had made a plan to enjoy my game, no matter what happens, the idea was to stay there, give that start the team needs. That’s something I have done over the last few months…”

In the final ODI, Harmanpreet walked out to bat lower down the order and played an 88-ball 75 to help India reach 255 for nine.

“We wanted to give chances to our top-five batters and especially if Harleen (Deol) and Richa (Ghosh) could get some time at the crease. But when we lost two wickets, I had to go. Otherwise, we were only looking if others could also get a chance to bat because the Commonwealth Games are very important and for me, it is very important that everyone from the batting unit should get a good number of deliveries to bat and that’s why I shifted my batting order,” Harmanpreet explained.

“I have got a good amount of time to bat in this tournament, but for me, it is important that others also get enough opportunities. Somehow, that clicked as we wanted to achieve a decent total and we could do that…” the captain stated.

Ahead of any big-ticket tournament, every team wants its star players to strike form and as the confident Women in Blue gear up for their trip to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games, fans would be hoping for some firecrackers from the captain!