Fearless Kaur coming of age

Moga girl Harmanpreet Kaur’s unbeaten knock of 171, which ripped apart defending champions Australia in the ICC Women’s World Cup semifinal in Derby last week, has earned her many monikers. Hurricane Harmanpreet, Harmonster or Superharman, the list goes on. Though India went down fighting against hosts England in the final on Sunday, Kaur’s heroics have captured the imagination of Indian cricket fans.

Even though Kaur suffered a side strain during the semifinal, Australia had no answer to the 28-year-old’s onslaught which included 20 fours and seven sixes. It was Kaur’s third ODI century, the first outside India and her highest-ever score.

The 28-year-old all-rounder made her ODI debut against Pakistan in 2009 and since then has scored 2,025 runs in 77 ODIs and 1,223 runs in 68 T20Is. She is the first Indian to play in the women’s Big Bash League (2016) in Australia, scoring 296 runs in 12 innings for Sydney Thunders. In June 2017, Kaur, employed as chief office superintendent in Western Railways, became the first Indian to sign with Surrey Stars in Kia Super T20 League in England.

Kaur has been in the form of her life ever since she was appointed captain of the women’s T20 side ahead of the Asia Cup T20 held at Bangkok in December last year. India went on to pocket a record sixth Asia Cup T20 title under Kaur. In January this year, Kaur led from the front as India scripted history by clinching its maiden T20 series win over three-time world champions Australia in their own backyard. Though India put up a poor show in the World T20 at home earlier this year, Kaur’s consistent performance — 89 runs and seven wickets in four matches — was enough to earn her a maiden call from an overseas T20 franchise.

The Indian team’s vice-captain, who’s also a more than handy off-spinner, is valued in the team for scoring at a brisk pace and having good cricketing brain. And after her whirlwind knocks in the World Cup, it’s evident that she’s a clean hitter with an uncanny knack of clearing boundaries at will.