On tough days, I recall my 171, says Harmanpreet Kaur
The Harmanpreet Kaur-led India are using the Tri-series as an opportunity to get used to the wickets and conditions and polish their T20 skillsUpdated: Feb 11, 2020 22:53 IST
The Indian women are 10 days from playing their T20 World Cup opener against favourites Australia in Sydney, but a dress rehearsal awaits them on Wednesday when they take on the hosts in the Tri-series final at the Junction Oval in Melbourne. The Harmanpreet Kaur-led India are using the Tri-series as an opportunity to get used to the wickets and conditions and polish their T20 skills. “When the opposition is good, you can definitely improve as a team and put yourself in different situations to learn how to handle pressure. In that sense we are using the Tri-series to brush up certain areas and try to be more calculative in all departments,” the top all-rounder said in an interview.
Indian women have won only 10 of the 19 T20s they have played since the last World Cup in the West Indies in November 2018. Australia and England, the stronger teams in the circuit in T20s, have more than an 80 % winning record since the last world event. However, India will take immense confidence from their victory over the Aussie women on Saturday when they chased down a target of 173, their highest in the format, completing a seven-wicket win with two balls to spare.
India’s exciting new batting find, 16-year-old Shafali Verma set up victory with a 28-ball 49. Verma’s explosive hitting has been helping India win the opening power-play battles in Australia. The captain calls her special. “Shafali gives great freedom to Smriti (Mandhana) to play her natural game. The day Shafali clicks, the team is on the front foot. I want to tell her she is someone who has to keep working on her game because she is not someone who is ordinary,” she says.
The middle-order has been a cause of worry for India, but it could all change if Kaur, the best batsman in the side, re-discovers her top form. The Moga girl smashed a career-best 103 in November 2018, but last year was forgettable as she averaged 19 in 11 innings. She has shown glimpses of a return to form in the Tri-series but does not have a big innings to show.
Kaur has time and again sought the services of a sports psychologist to strengthen her team. While the officials haven’t acceded to her request, the skipper has her own way to bolster confidence when down—viewing tapes of her epic 171 in the 2017 ODI World Cup semi-finals against Australia. “That innings is very close to my heart, and it will keep motivating and inspiring me to do well in future. On tough days, I always recall that innings, and after watching it again, it makes me feel better,” she says.
Her memories of the last T20 World Cup are mixed, an unbeaten run halted in the semi-finals by England and controversy within the team and Mithali Raj and then coach Ramesh Powar get embroiled in it. The team vibes are much better this time, and Kaur is in better charge of things.
“I do understand what it takes to lead a show and be able to carry the responsibility of a team. As a player, it is very important to understand your role in the team. And if you are the leading one, you have to be more specific with your work and try to bring more positive results for the team,” she explains her approach to captaincy.
“Nowadays, India play more fearless cricket and are open to learning new things,” she says. The battle against familiar foes on Wednesday is a good opportunity to showcase the learnings.
Watch women’s T20i Tri-Nation Series Final, India Vs Australia, live on February 12 on SONY SIX and SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) from 08:10 am IST.