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With Harmanpreet Kaur delivering an incredible performance, it’s time for us to cheer the Indian women’s Cricket team in the upcoming World Cup finals!
In 1983 ‘Kapil’s Devils’ beat the much-fancied West Indies team led by the great Viv Richards at Lord’s to win the Cricket World Cup. This was an inflexion point for the sport in the country. The rise in popularity of cricket that started with this victory has brought cricketers to the status of demi-gods now.
However, in the early part of the 1983 world cup there was one masterful innings by an Indian cricketer which ensured India were not knocked out of the tournament prematurely. This was Kapil Dev’s 175* against Zimbabwe after India was down 5 wickets for 17 runs. This innings is widely considered to be one of the greatest one-day international innings, which interestingly, was never televised.
More than three decades later Harmanpreet Kaur scores 171* off a mere 115 balls with 20 fours and 7 sixes in another world cup.
Unlike the league stages in which Kapil’s innings was played, this occasion was even bigger – the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup. And the opponent, the reigning World Champion and widely regarded as the strongest team in the world – Australia.
An innings of such class and ferocity that it had the legends of the game past and present sit up and take notice. Virender Sehwag, known for his fearless and explosive batting tweeted calling himself a Fan!
Interestingly, Harmanpreet modeled her fearless attacking stroke play on Sehwag, who is her favorite cricketer.
An Innings of a lifetime , Harmanpreet Kaur . What wonderful clean hitting. More than 60% of India’s runs.
Fan ! Over to the Bowlers now. pic.twitter.com/xZlIB2SW4x
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) July 20, 2017
Harmanpreet came to the crease when India was already in a spot of bother, having lost two early wickets cheaply. She was batting along with the torchbearer of Indian Women’s Cricket, Mithali Raj, who has for years been shouldering the weight of the team. She reached her 50 in 64 balls playing cautiously with a few gorgeous hits to the boundary hinting at what was to come. The 2nd fifty came in a mere 26 balls as she really started loosening the shackles. An experienced Aussie bowling line up was shaken.
Even after the loss of Mithali’s wicket, she continued on in the company of Deepti Sharma who was playing a strong support role. Harmanpreet’s singular focus on winning the game for her team was evident in how she reacted to getting to her 100. Instead of the typical celebrations, she was furious at her partner for not responding to her call for the second run, which was there for the taking, almost leading to a run out.
Towards the end of the innings, she started cramping up and looked visibly in pain. However, even at this stage she did not let up on any run scoring opportunities. When the innings was completed, the Indian team had amassed a massive 281/4 in 42 overs. The bowlers then took over and did the rest of the job. There was a spirited fightback toward the end from the Aussie team. However, this was a mountain too high to climb even for them.
This world cup has in many ways felt like the coming of age of a new generation of women’s cricketers in India. Flamboyant and aggressive batswomen like Smriti Mandhana (90 from 72 balls, 106* from 108 balls – in the first two matches), Vedha Krishnamurthy (70 from 45 balls in a crucial knockout match against New Zealand), and Harmanpreet have shown they have the capability to capture the imagination of cricket enthusiasts across the world and be the torch bearers for the next several years.
One more match stands between the Indian Women’s Cricket Team and replicating the great feat of the legendary ‘Kapil’s Devils’. On Sunday, 23rd July 2017, at Lord’s, the same venue where 34 years ago, India’s relationship with Cricket as a sport changed forever, they will play England in the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup Cricket.
This could be a landmark moment for Women’s Cricket in India and they deserve all the support from cricket lovers in the country. Irrespective of the results, they have done us proud. Go India!
Short video on the match here below:
Top image of an elated Mithali Raj at a press conference after the win