Going into the T20I and ODI series against New Zealand and the ODI World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year, Harmanpreet Kaur had spoken of disappointment stemming from a long, lean run with the bat. In order to deal with it, she was having sessions with Dr Mugdha Bavare, the team’s then mental conditioning coach. Once she was in a good space, there was no looking back. Kaur was India’s most successful batter in the ODI World Cup and in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Fans always spoke fondly about her cult 115-ball unbeaten knock of 171 against Australia in the 2017 World Cup. Since she became India’s all-format captain after Mithali Raj’s retirement, Kaur, 32, has been in form. Proof which again came in unbeaten 111-ball knock of 143 runs against England in the second ODI on Wednesday. The innings included 43 off the last 11 deliveries and helped India set England a near-impossible target of 334. While her first fifty came off 64 balls, the next fifty runs took only 36.
After the match, Kaur said: “It was a very important game for us and we are very happy to win the series. I’m really happy with my form as captain, I’m getting great support. England were bowling really well and I took my time for the first 50 runs and then I just wanted to play my shots.”
Kaur’s unbeaten 143 in the second ODI is now the highest by an India captain in women’s ODIs. Mithali Raj’s 125* against Sri Lanka in 2018 in Katunayake was the previous best. Kaur’s score is also the third-highest individual score for India in this format.
“I just wanted to spend some time on the wicket because today’s wicket was not easy to bat on in the first innings. I wanted to keep watching the ball and play accordingly. I didn’t try too many shots early on. Whoever was coming in to bat with me, I was giving them the message that if they could find boundaries, fine, otherwise they could keep rotating the strike. Scoring more than 300 was very important for us,” she said.
Praising Kaur’s batting effort, England captain Amy Jones said, “Every loss is tough. They got away from us at the end and Harman batted brilliantly, it was almost like she flicked a switch. It felt like wherever we bowled it, she was finding the boundary. We have some very exciting, inexperienced bowlers and they will learn a lot from this.”
This was Kaur’s fifth ODI century and the second of 2022. Her previous ODI century in England was when she scored 171*. “Harman is known to hit the bowlers head on and go for massive shots. She is doing a great job as a captain too. She is definitely more confident and past her bad form phase. She can be termed as a fearless leader who wants to set a trend. She commands authority and also backs young team mates,” said Amita Sharma, former India medium-pacer.
With Jhulan Goswami’s farewell game on the cards at the Lords Cricket Ground on Saturday, one would expect Kaur swatting her bat around and making it special for her ‘Jhullu didi’.