Mohali girl Harleen Deol’s stunning catch garners praise from far and wide
Chances of watching a women’s T20 cricket match at 11pm are low, especially when Wimbledon is being televised simultaneously.
But, the fortunate ones who chose to watch the match between India and England being played at Northampton on Friday night, witnessed Harleen Deol’s stunning catch on the boundary line which has already garnered over two million views worldwide. Netizens showered Harleen with praise, while bestowing upon her titles like “wonder woman”, ‘flying Sikh’ and “superwoman”.
It was in the 19th over of England’s innings, when Amy Jones whacked the ball towards wide long-off, and Harleen produced the stunning effort to get the dismissal and save the six. She jumped in for the catch, but realised she was stepping out of the boundary line. Immediately, she tossed the ball into the air and then came back inside the line to complete the catch mid-air.
Stalwarts of the game laud Mohali girl
Playing in her 10th T20 match for India, Harleen was lauded by stalwarts of Indian cricket like Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina. Indian businessman Anand Mahindra and political leaders like I&B and sports minister Anurag Thakur and Priyanka Gandhi also showered her with praises.
Harleen was not in the Indian ODI team that lost the three-match series to the hosts. It would have been the icing on the cake had the match been completed and Harleen won the game for India while chasing 177.
England won the first T20 and took a 1-0 lead in the series, after no more play was possible due to the rain. The hosts won by 18 runs (DLS method). Harleen remained 17 not out.
Back home in Mohali, her mother Charanjit Deol has been flooded with texts, messages and calls from relatives and friends.
“I spoke to her after the game. She was thrilled, but disappointed as India lost the game. She wanted to win the game for the country,” she said. Harleen’s mother attributes her daughter’s success as a fielder to her fitness and commitment. Harleen’s brother would drive her 30 kms everyday for practice from Mohali to Zirakpur.
“Not many grounds have opened since the pandemic broke out. We found this ground and even though it was a bit far, it had good facilities. We bought gym equipment so she could work out at home. She was always in good shape and working on her fitness and athletic ability,” added Charanjit.
Not many know that Harleen shifted base from Mohali to Dharamsala to join Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association’s residential academy for U-19 girls. The academy was ex-BCCI chief and sports minister Anurag Thakur’s brainchild, who was then HPCA president.
She was 13 when she left Punjab Cricket Association for better facilities. As a teenager, she lived away from home at the academy, with a dream to win the world cup for India.
“It feels great to see Anurag sir appreciating Harleen. My daughter was always welcomed at HPCA, where she honed her skills. She wants to be part of the India ODI team and play in the Australia series, followed by the ODI World Cup in New Zealand early next year,” added Charanjit.
The Indian team’s fielding coach Abhay Sharma has also helped Harleen become a sharp fielder.
She made her ODI and T20 debut against England in 2019 when she replaced an injured Harmanpreet Kaur. Known to be a sharp fielder, solid top-order batter and a useful leg-spinner, Harleen has not had many chances playing in ODIs. She scored a 50 against South Africa at Lucknow in the T20 series.
“Harleen is a livewire on the ground. She will always take match-winning catches and save runs for the team. She should be in the Indian ODI team too. Her presence can make a difference,” echoed Pawan Sen, HPCA women’s team coach.