Harmanpreet Kaur wears her heart on her sleeve. Arguably one of India’s greatest women cricketers, her aggression on the field, her indomitable spirit, and her ability to lead fearlessly have earned Harmanpreet a huge fan following.
The captain of the Indian women’s team is a role model to many aspiring young girls in the country, but her sullen behaviour during and after the tied third ODI against Bangladesh in Dhaka would have left her fans disappointed.
On Saturday, as India looked to chase down 226, Harmanpreet was given out caught at slip off Nahida Akter while attempting a sweep in the 34th over. There was a bit of doubt on whether the ball went off the pads, or if there was a bit of glove on the way. But unfortunately, there was no snickometer or ball-tracking available to come to the batter’s aid. As the Bangladesh players appealed, Harmanpreet initially thought she was given an LBW. Dejected as she walked towards the dugout, Harmanpreet smashed the stumps with her bat and had a heated exchange with the umpire Tanvir Ahmed.
And things did not end there.
During the prize distribution ceremony, Harmanpreet publicly criticised the umpires for ‘poor’ decisions and said: “A lot of learning from this game. Even apart from the cricket, the type of umpiring that was happening there, we were very surprised. The next time whenever we are coming to Bangladesh, we’ll have to make sure we have to deal with this kind of umpiring and accordingly we’ll have to prepare ourselves.”
In the past, there have been instances of players dissenting against umpire’s decisions, but not many have publicly criticised them. As a seasoned campaigner and the captain, Harmanpreet certainly should have been more careful with her choice of words, and perhaps also realised that the presentation ceremony was not the ideal platform to voice her displeasure.
While Smriti Mandhana defended her captain’s act of smashing the stumps in the ‘heat of the moment’, she agreed that it was not the best thing to do keeping the spirit of the game in mind.
The Indian team management could have raised its concerns about the two umpires - Muhammad Kamruzzaman and Tanvir Ahmed – with match referee Akhtar Ahmed and lodged a formal complaint.
But Harmanpreet, unbecoming of an Indian captain, also mocked the Bangladesh team and the umpires during the post-match photo opportunity.
“Harmanpreet’s behaviour against the Bangladesh women’s team was pathetic. She is not bigger than the game. She got a very bad name for Indian cricket. BCCI should take very strict disciplinary action,” tweeted Madan Lal, one of the prominent members of India’s 1983 World Cup-winning team.
While the social media is divided over Harmanpreet’s act, as per the ICC code of conduct, she is in danger of being the first woman cricketer to be found guilty of a Level 2 breach. Though the ICC is yet to issue a statement, Harmanpreet could be fined 50 per cent of her match fee for breaking the stumps and an additional 25 per cent for her behaviour during the presentation ceremony. She could face a sanction of four demerit points, resulting in a possible two-match ban.
Over the last few years, Harmanpreet has played a key role in making India a force to reckon with, and perhaps, once the dust settles, she would do well to introspect and realise her responsibilities as an ambassador of the game.
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