Derby: Harmanpreet Kaur screams her guts out as she charges for the second run. She is flat on the ground. She gets up, stands on her feet. Looks at Deepti Sharma, while throwing the helmet on the ground, and has a maddening crack at her. Deepti does not want to be anywhere close to Harmanpreet. She dare not. Harmanpreet is raging. Mind freaking raging. Deepti wants to get away. She can't. Australia want to get away, they can't.
While her rage was a bit of a downer for the former Australia skipper Lisa Sthalekar as she tweeted, "Not sure I agree with the reaction of #Kaur in that moment. A senior/junior player moment. Took away a little of the gloss of an amazing 100," we shall choose some other day to get into the behavioural analysis of that rush of blood and outburst of emotions and its impact on the others. Today is not that day. Today can't be that day. Today is about her turning the tables on Australia; a country which picked her to play in the Women's Big Bash League. Today is Harmanpreet's. Today is India's. Today is magnifique.
Harmanpreet is the first Indian, not just first Indian woman, with a 150 plus score in a World Cup knockout game. She is topping the charts of highest individual scores in Women’s World Cup knockout games, pipping the likes of Karen Rolton, Lisa Keightley, Mithali Raj and Belinda Clark. She is the fifth highest run-getter in an ODI innings and the second Indian in that list, after a colleague at whom, she went mad.
She had her struggles in the tournament before she seemed to have picked some parts of the jigsaw in the last game with a 60 not out against New Zealand. But this 171 not out from 115, with 20 fours and 7 sixes, is brutal. It is perhaps the greatest innings ever played in a World Cup knockout game. Clearly for Charlotte Edwards, one of the greatest to have ever graced the game, as she tweets about the “best innings I've ever seen!!”. Harmanpreet Kaur has gone for a kill. Harmanpreet Kaur has broken the Australian will.
She scrolled to her fifty in 64 balls at a strike rate of 78.13. Steady. The next fifty runs came in just 26 balls at a strike rate of 192.31. Talk about acceleration. The remainder 71 came off 25 balls at a strike rate of 284. Carnage. The Australian experience, the knowledge about the Australian cricketers while playing in the Women’s Big Bash League, has come handy when it mattered the most.
Mithali Raj, one of the finest in her trade, was candid about it during the post-match press conference. "I think the transformation (has come) after she played in the WBBL. That exposure she and Smriti (Mandhana) got by interacting with other players has been massive. As I mentioned in the last press meet, against Australia it was they who were giving us more inputs about these players," said Mithali.
Harmanpreet’s plan was to “watch the ball and hit the ball”. But plans, especially in the big games, crumble, at times. Not Harmanpreet’s though. Certainly not today. She did not score many in the tournament and as she said, she did not get an opportunity. But when it mattered, India’s most decorated batswoman, after Mithali Raj, turned up in some style.
"I didn't get chance to bat in the whole tournament, wanted to utilise that opportunity. Whatever I was thinking, I utilised. Plan was to watch the ball and hitting the ball."
“I'm feeling proud. My innings was only worth it because they were restricted. When we were started from Bombay, we wanted to reach the semi-final, then reach the final," Harmanpreet said after winning the player of the match award.
She did not shy away from playing big shots and she was candid enough when asked about her on-field feisty exchange with Deepti. "It was the heat of the moment. I said sorry to her. We're fine now."
It seems the two have moved on from that incident, but talk about her innings, it shall take some time for the Indian fans to move on from that.