Women's T20 World Cup: Can Harmanpreet Kaur pull off a Dhoni in the finals?
Like Dhoni of 2011, Harmanpreet Kaur is struggling to score runs in this World Cup. But when the team needed him the most Dhoni played a match-winning inning. The question now is can Harmanpreet do the same?
Way back in 2011, when the Indian men’s cricket team skipper MS Dhoni walked out to bat at number five in the World Cup finals, fans and critics alike questioned the move. The Men in Blue had been reduced to 114 for 3 against Sri Lanka and needed another 161 runs off the next 30 overs to win the historical title after a long gap of 28 years.
The move was criticized further as Dhoni had not been in the best of forms heading into the summit clash. He had batted seven times in the edition before the finals, scoring 31, 34, 19*, 12*, 22, 7 and 25, and he was hardly expected to make an impact at Wankhede.
However, it was pure carnage for the next 30 overs as the skipper led from the front and scored what is now a historical unbeaten knock of 91 that sent India into tizzy. Harmanpreet Kaur, the skipper of the women’s team, will be hoping that Dhoni’s narrative pans out for her as well on Sunday, the day she will lead her team out in front of a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground for the finals of the Women’s T20 World Cup.
The Moga player has managed to average just 6.50 in four games in the ongoing tournament and has been well below par. Her indifferent form has carried over from 2019 but her strong presence and her shrewd captaincy has allowed cricketers like Shafali Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues to take the forefront. The two youngsters have overshadowed Harmanpreet in the T20 World Cup, but the team will be well aware that the biggest star will need to raise her game if India has any hopes of claiming their first women’s ICC trophy in any format.
Harmanpreet, however, is no stranger to playing mesmerizing knocks in World Cups. In the 2017 World Cup, her unbeaten 171 in the semis against Australia brought instant attention to women’s cricket as the team glided into the sold-out final at Lord’s with #Harmanpreet trending on Twitter for days. In the 2018 Women’s T20 World Cup, she scored a fine 109 against New Zealand in the league game to start the tournament with a bang.
The leading run-scorer of the Sydney Thunder in the 2016 edition of the Women’s Big Bash League, Harmanpreet has emerged as a champion batter over the years with her fluent stroke-play and fearless hitting. On March 8, also Women’s Day and also her 31st birthday, the cricketer, who will have her parents watch her live for the first time, will hope to end the day as an even bigger star.