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Harmanpreet Kaur: The Story of India’s Woman Sehwag

Harmanpreet Kaur is an Indian Cricketer and the captain of the Indian Women’s T20 team. The most prominent highlight of India’s all-rounding superstar Harmanpreet Kaur has to be those 171 runs that she hit against Australia in the Women’s World Cup semi-finals, which helped India proceed into the finals. Many compared her heroics to that of Kapil Dev’s 175* against Zimbabwe.

Both the star performances were from all-rounders who had 170+ scores in a world cup semi-finals in England. 

Details
Full Name
Harmanpreet Kaur
Age
29
Sport Category
Cricket
Date of Birth
8 March 1989
Hometown
Moga, Punjab
Height
5ft 3in
Batting Style
Right-handed
Bowling Style
Right-arm off-break
Teams Played for
India B Women, India Green Women, India Women, Punjab Women (India), Sydney Thunder, Lancashire Thunder Club

Harmanpreet Kaur Biography

Early Days and Struggle

Harmanpreet grew up in the dusty lanes of Moga in Punjab. Hers was a lower-middle-class family, and hence her family had a typical conservative mindset. Harmanpreet Kaur always loved playing cricket. However, she was unsurprisingly rebuffed when she finally expressed the wish to her parents, Harmander Singh Bhullar and Satvinder Singh Bhullar.

Nevertheless, despite her parents playing the foil in every possible manner, Kaur succeeded in pursuing her dream. She would practice at every possible opportunity she got, ignoring the resistance from her family. Even worse, Harmanpreet had to play with men in the initial years, a practice that found disapproval amongst her kin and kith.

Her talent did not go in vain as coach Kamaldeesh Singh Sodhi soon spotted her. He owns a school in Moga and he saw something in Harmanpreet. Sodhi had a significant role to play in convincing Kaur ’s parents to let her play the sport. He also provided initial financial support to her.

Harmanpreet Kaur Career

Harmanpreet ’s tryst with cricket thus started at her alma mater, Gyan Jyoti Public School. After her admission in class X, Kaur was exempted from any fees. Sodhis provided her with free bats, shoes and kit.

Kamaldeesh’s son, Yadwinder Singh Sodhi, would coach her. Fast forward four years and the 20-year-old had made her debut for India in 2009 against Pakistan. She made a big of the opportunity given to her and ticked all the right boxes. The highlight of her debut was that she played big shots with such ease.

Harmanpreet ’s problems aggravated when she couldn’t find a decent job to support her ambitions, despite getting the national call. She knocked on many doors for employment, most notably at Punjab Police. 

But she received a blunt response, stating that a female cricketer had no scope of employment with Punjab Police. The then DGP of the agency, Parminder Singh Gill, went on to say that she wasn’t a Harbhajan Singh but just another woman cricketer. (Fact file: Harbhajan Singh was offered a role of DSP in Punjab Police in 2002 by the then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal)

There’s an adage in English,

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Harmanpreet didn’t give up despite all the rejections. She finally landed on a job with Indian Railways, on the recommendation from a former cricketer and the first-ever Indian women captain Diana Edulji. She moved to India’s batting squad in Mumbai in 2014 after getting the Indian Railways job.

One may think the bitter episode of rejections and resistance would have made Kaur weak. However, her coach, Yadwinder Singh Sodhi, has a different view. He feels it is this experience that contributed to making Kaur a strong and resilient cricketer.

But Punjab Police and her family’s rejection did reflect an important aspect among the general public: Lack of respect (or interest) for the women’s cricket.

However, things started to change when BCCI took full control of the women’s team in 2006. In 2017, they made it to the finals of the Women’s World Cup which meant that the women’s team would get national recognition and following. Social media had played an essential role in this revival.

BCCI’s takeover meant all the women cricketers had a steady source of income, and thus they did not have to seek employment to support themselves.

Domestic 

Harmanpreet moved up from school cricket to Ferozpur district team, Within two years, Kaur entered the Punjab senior team. However, a well-balanced squad meant she had to wait for her name in the starting XI. However, at the same time, she continued to perform well for the Punjab U 19 team.

Kaur starred for Punjab as they went to become Zonal Champions by beating stronger teams like Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana. She then broke into the North Zone team in the U-19 Challenger Trophy. Soon Kaur was named in the 30 probable for the Women’s World Cup in 2009. 

However, Kaur was not confident over her selection after attending the training camp at Bangalore’s National Cricket Academy. “That was the first time I came to know about fitness and gym sessions. We were doing none of it back home.” She returned to Moga after the camp with some self-doubts. 

However, as fate would have it, Harmanpreet was selected in the squad, only for her to be completely unaware of it. Her fellow cricketer and her friend Poonam Raut informed her about it. “I was shocked. She told me that the team had been announced a week ago, but I hadn’t received any such notification from BCCI.”

Harmanpreet only had two days to reach Mumbai for another camp to join the Indian squad and leave for the world cup. “I was expected to join the squad in Mumbai in two days for another camp before we left for the World Cup. Guess it was pure luck that I happened to call Poonam, or else I would have missed the bus.”

ODI Career

Harmanpreet Kaur made her debut for India in the 2009 Women’s World Cup in Australia. And it was not just any other match. It was a match against Pakistan. Kaur bowled four overs and conceded only ten runs as India wrapped up Pakistan for just 57 runs. The cherry on the cake was the catch of Armaan Khan off Amita Sharma.

The likes of Jhulan Goswami and Amita Sharma meant Harmanpreet had to prove her role as her batsman and address the Women in Blue’s lower batting order shortcomings.

“I would get to bat but had to wait endlessly to bowl. And even when I did get a chance, it would be a couple of overs here and there, when a spinner had an off day.” And she took her chances with open arms. Harmanpreet’s first big innings with the bat came against England in March 2010. Kaur came in when the Indian women were struggling at 4-26 in Mumbai. She scored 84 in 113 balls as she guided India to cross 200.

With the ball, she picked two wickets and bowled with an economy of 4.33.

However, English women pulled away as they won by two wickets. The Punjab girl continued her good performances with the bat as she moved up the order from number 6 and number 7 to number 4 and number 5. In 2012, Kaur scored 373 runs in 11 innings for Indian women team.

The next year she bettered herself by scoring 354 runs in just seven innings. While continuing her incredible ascend,  Harmanpreet was named India women’s ODI captain. In the series against Bangladesh, Kaur scored her second ODI century in 2nd One Day International of the series, March 2013.

At the end of the series, Kaur had scored 195 runs at an average of 97.50 that included a century & a fifty along with two wickets. Harmanpreet’s third century came in Ahmedabad against Bangladesh, scoring 103 in just 100 balls. Kaur showed her real aggressive game 11 fours and two sixes. Her aggressive batting is reminiscent of former Indian opener and Kaur’s role model, Virendra Sehwag.

Despite being an all-rounder, it was her batting ability which ensured she made her way and became among India’s key player. In fact, Harmanpreet did not pick her first ODI wicket until 2013 against Bangladesh. And it was because until then, she had just bowled in 8 of the 29 ODIs she played in. 

However, after that match in Ahmedabad in 2013, there was no looking back. The medium-fast bowler started to establish herself as a sixth bowler in the team. Since then, she has bowled in 47 ODIs picking 21 wickets. 

In July 2017, Harman became the second India batswomen to feature in the Top Ten of ICC Women’s ODI Player Rankings after former captain Mithali Raj. Currently, Harmanpreet Kaur is just one short of her 100th ODI for India. In 99 matches she has scored 2372 runs at an impressive average of 34.88 and a strike rate of 68.93. 

T20 Career

Months after debuting in the 2009 Women’s World Cup against Pakistan; Kaur made her T20 debut for India against England in the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 against England women’s at County Ground. However, she, like the Indian team, had a dismissive campaign. 

Like her ODI career, Kaur’s ability to hit the ball a long way was again the talk of the town after she played a quick-fire inning of 33 against England women’s in a T20I game played in Mumbai in 2010. Steadily, she became an essential part of the Indian team.

Kaur became Indian women’s captain for the 2012 Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup final after captain Mithali Raj, and vice-captain Jhulan Goswami were ruled out due to injuries. She made her debut as the captain against Pakistan women’s as India defended 81 runs and thus winning Asia Cup.

In January 2016, she helped India to win the series in Australia by scoring a 31-ball 46 runs in India’s highest ever chase in Twenty20 Internationals. She continued her form in the 2016 ICC Women’s World T20, where she scored 89 runs and took seven wickets in four matches.

In June 2016, Kaur became the first Indian cricketer to sign for an overseas Twenty20 franchise, as the Women’s Big Bash League champions, Sydney Thunder, signed her for the 2016–17 season. In October 2019, after two matches had been washed out, Indian women faced South African women in a sixth unusual T20I of the series. Kaur became the first Indian, male or female, to play 100 T20I matches. 

Harmanpreet Kaur at World Cup

Harmanpreet Kaur made both her ODI and T20I debut in the 2009 Women’s World Cup and T20 World Championships respectively. However, Harmanpreet did not have a major impact at the start of her world cup career. It was only in the 2017 Women’s WC where she made herself known. 

On 20 July 2017, Harmanpreet scored a blitzkrieg 171*(115) against Australia in the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup semi-final in Derby to help her team advance into the finals of the event. Kaur’s 171* is currently the second-highest score by an Indian batswoman in an ODI. Deepti Sharma leads the roost with 188 runs.

Harmanpreet also has the record for the highest individual score for India in Women’s cricket World Cup history to her name. The 171* knock was also the highest ever individual score in a knockout stage of a Women’s World Cup match, easily surpassing the previous record of 107* held by Karen Rolton.

Harmanpreet led the Indian women at the 2018 Women’s World T20. Kaur had previous experience as a captain in the Asia Cup final and led Indian women to the title. Kaur and the women in Blue remained unbeaten throughout the group stage in the West Indies. They bet NZ, Pakistan, Ireland and Australia to set a semi-final clash against England. 

And she led from the front scoring 183 runs in 5 matches at an average of 45.75 including a 103 off just 51 balls in the first match. However, the Indian team fell against eventual runner-ups England in the semis. In 2020, Kaur will lead a young Indian women’s team in Australia as India look for the first title. 

Harmanpreet Kaur Family

Harmanpreet Kaur was born to a lower-middle-class family on 8th March 1989 in Moga. Her father, Harmandar Singh Bhullar, was a clerk at a judicial court whereas her mother, Satwinder Kaur, is a housewife. Harmandar, himself, was a club cricketer and used to chop and customise his bats. 

Like mentioned earlier, Kaur’s parents were reluctant to let her play cricket as a young kid. Harmanpreet’s teacher used to lecture Satwinder and Harmandar on allowing her into cricket rather than studies. Like any other parent, they tried to limit her playing cricket and wanted to encourage her in her studies. 

However, when the time to turn a professional came, her parents let her follow her passion. The eldest of 4 siblings, Harmanpreet, was the apple of her parent’s eye. She also is an inspiration to her sister-Hemjeet Kaur and two brothers. Harmanpreet is unmarried. Her parents have promised her that they would not pressurise her into marriage. 

Harmanpreet Kaur Awards

  • Runner-up 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup
  • ICC Women’s T20I Team of the Year
  • Arjuna Award- 2017
  • BCCI’s Best Women Cricketer of the Year 2017
  • Forbes 30 under 30

Harmanpreet Kaur Unknown Facts

  • Kaur and ODI captain Mithali Raj staged a revolt against the women’s coach Tushar Arothe and also demanded his resignation.
  • Harmanpreet Kaur is a big fan of Virender Sehwag and idolises him. 
  • Former Indian Captain Diana Edulji spotted Kaur and had suggested her to get a job with Western Railways. However, they rejected her application.
  • Former Indian Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar helped in getting a job at Western Railways. The master blaster had even sent a personal letter. 
  • In 2017, Punjab Police honoured her with DSP rank. However, the state home department had to withdraw the honour and demote her to a constable rank after finding out that her undergraduate degree was fake. 
  • Harmanpreet was the Indian player to play in the Big Bash League when she signed with Sydney Thunder in June 2016. 
  • The following year, she became the first Indian cricketer to sign for the English Cricket Board’s (ECB) Kia Super League. She played for Surrey Stars. 

Harmanpreet Kaur Social Media

 

Monish Gadiya
Monish Gadiya is the Head of Content at KreedOn. He is a thorough tech-enthusiast and believes that innovation is the answer to all the problems prevalent in the society. Monish graduated from University of Pune with a degree in Civil Engineering before pursuing a post-graduate diploma course in intellectual property rights. A die-hard football fan, he has represented his college at various football competitions.

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