The reigning Big Bash champions have confirmed that one of their most prolific batswomen in all forms, Harmanpreet Kaur will be returning to the national team for the upcoming tournament which has been scheduled for late March after missing last season due to personal reasons. A report from the Indian Premier League (IPL) stated that she will be joining Bollywood actor Rhea Chakraborty who had also missed out on playing for the franchise. However, it is likely that this move would not have an impact over the competition as the big hitters like Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey are expected to play a significant role in the title clash.
According to reports reaching the press, India Women’s Cricket Team management is considering naming her captaincy in the event as well. And given the fact that she was not getting enough time with Meg Lanning, she could have chosen to captain the side. If she does captain, then the next women’s IPL match would be played at Mount MCG next week when they face Karnataka (BCCI team). So far there is no official confirmation about whether or not she can captain or not based on these reports and the rumours. It is expected that she would return to Mumbai Indians instead of making the switch to the Australian franchise.
Kaur will join the Indian squad after having completed training for half the year. After spending three weeks at BCCI Sports Complex facility in Bengaluru, where she spent the lockdown period, she has returned to the national camp and begun full pre-season training. Last weekend, she was seen putting up some impressive knocks against Jharkhand in both warm up games and matches against Rajasthan Royals and Northern and then took two more knocks against Delhi Capitals. In spite of her struggles, she managed to score 109 runs during these three matches. From bowling at number 3 during those innings, she managed to go on to bowl 10 overs in the middle overs and then finally made some progress in opening the batting.
A few days ago, Kaur had mentioned that the team might take some time before coming back into full form. “After the first game I wasn’t quite sure what my game was capable of doing today. But I think the way we worked today really put us in good stead. We were able to execute our roles better than we did earlier in the week.” Even though she was disappointed about being out of action for so long, she did acknowledge it was difficult to come back once training resumes in full swing at home. As she pointed out, she had always been an aggressive player but this year felt different.
“Last month after another game, I was happy that I scored so much in the second and third game. But I feel like I am finding myself a little bit slower here in case you are aware of what I can do; we just needed a bit more aggression and it didn’t work for me today, so it will take me longer to get my rhythm going but I think we still got ourselves right.” Kaur said after the win against Delhi Capitals. Kaur played five batsmen against Delhi including Shikha Pandey, Radha Yadav, Anushka Sharma and Yastika Bhambri, while the rest of the top six batters were all restricted to four singles.
She also bowled 4 wickets during the match and it was evident how much she struggled during the entire contest. While fielding at number 5, she let them know about taking a couple of risks, saying that if the ball kept running, it might be a great opportunity. At the other end was Bina Singh who looked dangerous throughout the night but couldn’t find any way of taking off the scoreboard. Most importantly, she had the support of her teammates and her skipper Mithali Raj, who ensured she had maximum support in the middle order and even though she lost the match, she didn’t look defeated enough.
With the departure of Sophie Molineux, captaincy of the league for the first time in 15 years might now be in hands of Harmanpreet Kaur. Given the fact that she will lead the pace attack and the presence of Maxwell, one of the best players in international cricket, it seems that she will be able to spearhead her teammates when asked for that. Her performance in the final game against Delhi Capitals could also be termed as something special in many ways — a high level performance by a batter who took 8 balls to score. With such a strong bench, India Women’s Cricket Team will hope to retain their title next season with a victory.
The Indian team won last year’s World T20 gold and will be looking forward to claiming the same trophy again. The team is currently placed in fourth place in the ICC ranking list with 7 points from the 14 wins so far. They remain unbeaten in the group stage and there are chances from them to upset the juggernaut of Australia on February 6. If any of the Big Four can knock them out of form and finish runners up, India will definitely have every reason to smile again.