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Harmanpreet Kaur: India’s Gift To International Women’s Day

Women’s Cricket had long been overshadowed by Men’s in India until the day Harmanpreet Kaur changed it all in 2017 Women’s World Cup.

Last updated: 08.03.2019
Harmanpreet Kaur playing a marvelous shot

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Whenever we talk about Indian team’s progress in One Day cricket the 175 of Kapil Dev against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells during 1983 World Cup always gets a mention. Lots of people believe that this was the exact innings, the turning point that changed the journey of Indian cricket forever. But all these talks were regarding men’s cricket! What about the women’s game?

Shantha Rangaswami, Diana Edulji, Anjum Chopra, Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami Indian women’s cricket never lacked stars but they could never take the fancy of the common Indian cricket fans. Their matches were not regular and mostly not telecasted. The batting was slow, bowling was mostly spin or medium pace, fielding lacked the spark and women’s cricket never took off much in India. Despite all the odds they kept moving and playing. In 2005, Mithali Raj led Indian female cricket team to the World Cup final and represented India just as their male counterpart did two years ago. But media buzz was zero.

There were experienced players like Mithali and Jhulan and then there were youngsters like Smriti Mandhana. They were all making their contributions and then there was this girl from Moga, Punjab who was destined to play the Mega innings for India. Fittingly 8th March, the international working women’s day, was her birthday and Harmanpreet Kaur has proved herself as the special talent.


The signs were there from the initial days of her career. Her century during 2013 World Cup was the then highest by an Indian in Women’s World cup. She scored 109 which, well, you may now say ’just 109’! She was the first Indian to represent Women’s BBL. She played a match-winning innings in her debut match which included an audacious shot over the extra cover for the six. It was such a special shot even the bowler burst out laughing.

India had to play the qualifier in Sri Lanka before the 2017 World Cup. It was the final match between India and South Africa. The team was depleted as they were missing both Jhulan and Smriti in the whole tournament and then Mithali was also out. Harman was captaining the side and they had to chase 244, the highest target to be chased on Sri Lankan soil. Harman (41) held one end in the middle order and completed the unthinkable by scoring eight runs in the last two balls to give India a memorable victory. She was compared with MS Dhoni, considered by many as the greatest finisher in ODI who also wears jersey number seven like Harman.

But Harman was not satisfied. India started well in the 2017 Women’s World Cup and easily passed the group stage. But the biggest test was in the Semi-Final where a very strong Australian team was waiting. In a 42-over match India, batting first did not have a great start. Harman came to bat at the fall of the second wicket in the 10th over. She and Mithali added 66 runs in next 16 overs and Mithali got out. India had just 101 on the board with 17 overs to go. And this was when Harman decided to take things in her own hand and thus put Indian women’s cricket in the right direction.

India added 180 runs in next 17 overs. Harman scored 132 out of it! She finished with unbeaten 171. The innings had 20 fours and seven massive sixes and gave her fancy nicknames on Twitter. India ended with a run rate close to seven. The Australians were stunned; they never expected this kind of counter-attack from India and could not chase the score. Indian team reached their second World Cup final but more importantly, this was the match which turned the heads back home. Social media were filled with Women’s World Cup updates. Fans started cheering for the eves. It was a distant dream for the likes of Jhulan and Mithali who never stopped themselves. Harman’s innings worked as a catalyst for many to follow the game, to believe the female cricketers. It gave wings to a lot who were not afraid of dreaming.

Women’s game was not anymore just a ‘time pass’, not just the passing view while changing the channels on television. Women’s game started to build on its fan base. There started the passionate debates on Harman vs Mithali. Indian Women’s Cricket team truly arrived that day and we all need to thank the birthday girl. Like Kapil’s 175, her 171 also changed the women’s cricket forever, for the better.

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