The legend of Harmanpreet Kaur grows and keeps growing.
She led from the front in India’s opening match of the 2018 T20 World Cup against New Zealand with an incredible century, full of audacious shot-making of the highest order. In the company of the young Jemimah Rodrigues, she first built a partnership and then went on demolishing the opposition. And what an awesome display of power and technique it was!
When you are the captain of the team, win the toss and elect to bat, and see three of your top order batswomen get out quickly in a virtual quarterfinal match in an ICC World Cup, what do you do? You do a Harmanpreet Kaur!
She took a little bit of time to start with. One could feel the weight of pressure she was under. She defended solidly and tapped the first few balls she faced, ran safe singles, and avoided any risk.
It helped that the batswoman at the other end, a young eighteen-year-old, was batting fluently – apparently unencumbered by the weight of pressure that experience brings in, in an ironic sort of way.
Jemimah was scoring and Harmanpreet was stalling, nay…waiting. She had scored just 5 runs from the first 13 balls she had faced. On her 14th ball, the second ball of the 10th over, she danced down the track and deposited Watkin in the stands. She danced down the track again off the last ball of that over, did not seemingly time the ball and yet the ball found itself in the stands.
The gear had changed from 1 to 5 in a few seconds. It remained that way till the end of the innings, well, almost. By the time she departed in the last over, she had brought up the first century by an Indian woman in a T20 world cup and the third overall, off just 49 balls, studded with eight glorious sixes!
We have not seen Kapil Dev demolish Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup when India had lost 5 wickets for next to nothing. Then the captain came and changed not just the course of the match, but that of the entire tournament.
Whether this particular innings by another Indian captain does the same, only time will tell. But regardless of the outcome, for those few who were lucky to watch that game from the stands in 1983, it must have felt like the way millions of us watching Harmanpreet Kaur have felt today on 9 November 2018.