Harmanpreet created history on 9th November, when she became India’s first woman player to hit a century in the cricket’s shortest format. Moreover, her 51-ball 103 score was also the fastest by any batswoman. The knock was especially noteworthy as Kaur was suffering an injury in stomach and back.
It seems as though Harmanpreet has a propensity of hitting big knocks on big stages, because, almost all of her big scores have come in World Cup matches against star teams.
As the T20 fever grips India, we have a look at some of the most famous knocks of Harmanpreet Kaur:
#5. 46 vs Australia, 1st T20, Adelaide
India tour of Australia is always one of the most interesting contests to watch for in the cricketing world. The 2016/17 India Women’s series against Australia was no different. The Aussies were in a rich vein of form and had built a sort of fortress on their home soil. India, on the other hand, had faced a shocking home defeat at the hands of South Africa.
The first match of the tour was a T20 International at Adelaide. The Aussies, after being made to bat first, could manage only 140 runs on a turning pitch with AJ Healy topping batting charts with 41 runs.
The target was a tricky one, especially to the Indian batswoman, who were oblivious to the variations in the pitch over the course of the day. India lost captain Mithali Raj in the second over itself, and the scores stood at 7/1. Although Smriti Mandhana and Veda Krishnamurthy did manage to build a 54-run partnership, India went from 62-1 to 91-4. With the run-rate mounting and her side losing wickets in quick succession, Harmanpreet Kaur came to the crease with a big responsibility on her shoulders.
She held her ground and quite single-handedly took guided India to a famous win. She scored a timely 46 off 31 balls that were peppered with six fours and one sixes. She was rightly adjudged the Player of the Match. Due to her inspiring performances, India would go on to script a historic series win against Australia, more importantly on their home soil. In fact, it was the hosts’ first loss at home in over 3 years. The tour was elemental in fixing Harmanpreet’s place in the team, who was rightly made the T20 squad captain in the following year.
#4 103 vs Bangladesh, 2nd ODI, Ahmedabad
Bangladesh Women’s team were on a tour of India, as both of them looked to rub off the dust from their disappointing performances in the 2013 World Cup. India had won the first ODI, with the stand-in captain Harmanpreet Kaur the star of the match with an unbeaten 63 runs stand.
In the second ODI, India started on a cautious note after winning the toss and choosing to bat first. They were a steady at 75 for 2 by the before 20th over before Harmanpreet came to the crease. Opener Poonam Raut was still at the crease and the duo went on to add 109 runs off 126 balls to set the stage for a strong first-innings total.
Harmanpreet added another 52 runs with Anagha Deshpande after Raut fell for a score of 80. Harmanpreet was dismissed in the 48th over by Salma Khatun, soon after bringing up her second ODI hundred, and India eventually finished the innings at 256 for 6.
Harmanpreet’s 103 came off 100 balls and included 11 fours and two sixes. She also became the sixth Indian batter to score more than 1000 runs in ODIs.
With such a strong total, Bangladesh needed to score at around five runs an over. However, the Indian bowlers kept the run rate under control and picked up wickets at regular intervals.
#3 107* vs England, 2013 World Cup
The Indian dugout had started the 2013 Women’s World Cup well with a massive win of 110 runs over the West Indies. However, they were facing a daunting task in the form of England, who boasted the likes Jenny Gunn and Charlotte Irateness. The latter, who had been in an incredible form, scored a stunning 109 against India to help England to a respectable total of 272/8.
In the process, she had become the highest run-getter in the WODIs and was also the first to break the 1,000-run barrier against in the Women’s World Cup.
Quite naturally, India needed some inspiration in their own ranks to overcome the daunting total. They found that in Harmanpreet, who came in as at No. 2 for a departing Mithali Raj as India were stuttering at 29/3.
She staged a crucial partnership with wicketkeeper KV Jain, who hit 56 off 96 balls. Even after Jain departed, a defiant Kaur showed incredible resilience as she held on. She went on to knock 107 off 109 balls that were laced with 8 fours and 2 sixes.
However, that was not enough as India ultimately lost out by 34 runs.
#2 84 vs England, 2009 World Cup
Harmanpreet Kaur’s inception in the national side was one of the nerviest debuts – Against India’s fiercest arch-rivals Pakistan on the grand stage of 2009 World Cup. But the youngster soaked in all the pressure in the very matured way. In that match, although she could not do much with the bat, Kaur bowled 4 overs and even caught Armaan Khan off Amita Sharma’s delivery.
However, the Punjab girls best knock of the year came just 8 days from her debut – in a match against England. At 26/4, India was in a very flimsy state with the match having a potential to turn in any direction. Not a good setting for a 20-year-old cricketer, right? Not quite.
Kaur not only quickly adapted in the match but also went on to score a crucial 84 runs.
#1. 171* vs Australia, 2017 World Cup
Well, no surprises here. In fact, Harmanpreet’s knock of 171* is not only her best but is also considered one of India’s best hits in a long time. Considering the point of time and the manner in which the incredible swashbuckling came is the reason why it is revered so much.
The intriguing semi-final started on an awkward note for both the sides as the match was reduced to just 42 overs per side due to heavy rains. The Indians were put to open the batting, and as expected, the pitch turned out to be unpredictable as the game proceeded. The Indians were more nervous by the fact that they had lost out to the Aussies in the group stage match by a comfortable margin of 8 wickets.
However, the innings started in the worst possible manner as one of India’s best players, Smriti Mandhana, was sent back to the pavilion after just 6 runs. More trouble was waiting for India as Raut soon followed her.
The match seemed to look to slip out of the hands and the women in blue needed some inspiration to put at least a defendable total.
And then Enters Harmanpreet Kaur.
Kaur joined forces with her captain Mithali Raj and put up a valuable 66 runs for the third wicket to infuse some stability in the batting side. After the latter got out for 36, she formed a formidable partnership with Deepti Sharma. As the innings progressed and Sharma settled, a relatively conservative Kaur started to send the Australian bowlers for boundaries. Soon, she outright dominated the bowling side with some spectacular pulls, epic fours, and towering sixes.
In no time, the duo had amassed 137 runs for the fourth wicket. Like in the New Zealand match, Harmanpreet was struggling with cramps in that match as well. Consequently, running became difficult. However, instead of gutting down with the pain, she used it as an inspiration to hit the ball out of the park. By the end of the innings, she had scored an astonishing 20 boundaries and 7 sixes in the 115-ball knock.
With Kaur’s help, India successfully posted a total of 281/4 in 42 overs. In the second innings, the defending champions crashed under the pressure for 245 in 40.1 overs. Harmanpreet’s knock thus handed India a famous victory and sent them to the finals of the Women’s World Cup. The 171* run score was directly juxtaposed with that of the legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev’s 175* that also came in a World Cup semi-final.