If you have ever happened to hear Harmanpreet Kaur in an interview, you can be easily coerced into thinking that she’s a happy- go- lucky, laid-back sort of cricketer. There’s this refreshing everydayness minus any hang-ups about the girl. An easy talker, Harmanpreet seems like someone who has a bag-full of time on her side. Things happen at their own sweet pace in her world, so it appears. She’s soft and believable and admirably simple. But throw her in the midst of a captivating contest, and she would dispel the feeling that greets you when you glaze past her soft, congenial personality. As her bat swings into motion, whirring from around the second slip position coming in contact with the ball, it splatters everything- whether the white ball or the red ball- with raw energy.
An irresistibly talented batswoman
There’s a very different vibe about the Harmanpreet who communicates with her bat to the one who corresponds with a polite smile, away from the dizzying action of international cricket. It’s compelling. It’s beautifully unreal but a treat to watch. And in both situations- you are drawn to admire the talent of unmistakably one of Indian Women’s Cricket’s smashing idols.
At a time where the women’s game is setting newer milestones- cherrypicking on the advent of T20s, undergoing sparkling crossover journeys in the form of Women’s Big Bash League- Harmanpreet Kaur is playing her own special part in popularising the sport. These are two interesting journeys that are unfolding in parallel: the women’s game peaking; picking up steadily beating malaises like indifferent attitudes and a lack of awareness with Harmanpreet being at the peak of her powers. At 29, she’s not a cricketing neophyte, yet someone who’s fit to battle onerous challenges of international cricket for many forthcoming summers.
Contributing to cricket in a special way
Her place in the national side is without doubt unchallenged despite a steady influx of talented names, most noticeably Jemimah Rodriguez. Her steady, fluent knocks for the Sydney Thunder have made her an implicit part of one of the famous WBBL sides. Her Australian teammates note, she will be around for another 2 years for the franchise.
You get a sense from both diverse roles that she’s both a team player and someone who possesses the power to carry her side individually. She’s a cricketer who can be idolised, even lionised but someone who rests on her innate modesty to not get carried away. Quite like when she was appointed the captain of the T20 side.
In an age where cricketers can be easily entrapped by the lust to make a quick buck or two, Harmanpreet- who’s withstood pressures from an early age, hailing from a lower-middle class Sikh family, battling financial pressures and lack of job stability- has remained committed to make the best of her craft. Kaur the athlete is mindful of the high stakes involved in the game and as an individual, someone who respects the competition cricket entrusts its talents to tackle. It seems she’s aware of her responsibilities. Her silently glowing presence is inspiring for youngsters and yet there’s so much she’s still picking up from established old-guards: Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami. But all said, what truly catapulted Harmanpreet Kaur to the attention of even the most uninformed quarters of the game was her effort in the semi-final against Australia in last year’s Women’s world Cup.
Her best knock thus far
A knock that shall, for years to come, be hailed for carrying a breathtaking imprint of Harmanpreet’s talent. A stormy 171 off just 115 balls that ripped apart Australia and took India to the coveted final’s stage. But while the dashing right-hander’s aggressive stroke play has garnered appreciation from both teammates and adversaries, Harmanpreet isn’t all attack and slam-bang brand of a cricketer. A graceful stroke-player, her game is checkered with silken drives and deft nudges. She can wait patiently to break loose without losing focus and can change gears with fluent ease. If that doesn’t construct the DNA of a rare modern day cricketer than what will? Salute Harmanpreet. Enjoy your 29th.
Harmanpreet vis-a-vis some of the best ODI Women Cricketers
1. For her blitzing 115-ball 171 inning, during which she remained unbeaten, Harmanpreet’s efforts earned her the batting performance of the year award at the revered ESPNCricinfo awards
2. In July 2017, Harmanpreet broke into the elite ICC rankings of best ODI players securing a career-best rank of sixth place after her heroic efforts in the ICC Women’s World Cup
3. Harmanpreet happens to be the first ever Indian women cricketer to have been picked by a side in the Women’s Big Bash League. She plays for Sydney Thunder
4. No other player from Asia, other than Harmanpreet has scaled the prestigious height of being adjudged the player of the tournament when she was adjudged as the Women Player of the Year by her side, Sydney Thunder in 2017. Her strike rate in that season was 117.
5. Harmanpreet’s brilliant 77 run knock against Bangladesh in the Women’s World T20, 2014 sunk an entire team and to this stands her best individual T20 performance