Prior to her 42-ball 33 on Wednesday, only twice in her T20I career had Harmanpreet Kaur batted 40 or more balls and scored at a lower rate, but in the aftermath of her side’s comfortable six wicket win, the Indian skipper described her knock as a ‘very important one’ in her quest to find form and confidence moving into the latter stages of the T20 World Cup.
After restricting West Indies to 118/6, India were in a slight spot of bother at 43/3 but a fine 72-run stand between Harmanpreet and Richa Ghosh took the Women in Blue over the line, with 11 balls to spare.
It was a far from fluent knock from Harmanpreet, who struck just three boundaries in the 42 balls she faced, but the skipper revealed that she was pleased with her efforts for it ultimately not only saw the team home, but also helped her grow in confidence.
“Well, personally, for me, it was very important,” Harmanpreet said on Wednesday.
“That's why, I didn't show any hurry because it was a chaseable total according to our batting line-up. And I had that self-belief that if I can spend some time and we have a batter who can execute their self.
“And that's why - I was just spending some time there and when Richa came and then I know she's in good touch. My job is only to give her a single and I just spend some time and then I can get the confidence.”
The star of the show for India was Deepti Sharma, who pocketed the Player of the Match award for her stunning showing with the ball, choking the Windies with her off-spin as she finished with figures of 3/15 off her 4 overs. It was Deepti’s third three-fer in her last six T20Is, with her previous three-fer also coming against the same opponent, in the tri-series in South Africa.
From a personal standpoint, it was an important spell for the 25-year-old, who got bulldozed in the Pakistan encounter (1/39 off 4).
Harmanpreet revealed that Deepti had an extensive chat with bowling coach Troy Cooley prior to the encounter, and found success by varying the speeds and lengths at which she bowled.
“Well, as you mentioned last game, she didn't bowl what we were expecting from her. But in the team meeting, we discussed the area where she has to bowl and the speed and, in the air, how much air she has to give in there when she's bowling,” Harmanpreet said of Deepti.
“I think the discussion with Troy and Deepti was very important. And end of the team meeting, we came to one point -which speed she has to bowl and which line she has to bowl. I think that was something which she was able to do.
“And I think as a player, it's very important to understand and executing is something which is more important and good to see that she was able to do that. And we're happy to see her performing again.”
In fact, when quizzed about the recent success of Deepti, whose numbers have improved drastically, Harmanpreet said that the off-spinner has grown leaps and bounds by just doing one thing: spinning the ball as much as possible.
“Well, when you play too many T20s, that time you feel like you want to try too many things. And that's what I felt she was doing when she was not getting the wickets. And we had that talk that you are a spinner, you have to trust your skill other than just thinking about if you can bowl yorkers, faster ones.
“I know they are something which you have a plus, but your spin is something which is your first priority. And that's why we did work in the nets where she can focus more on spinning the ball other than just looking for some extra things like faster ones or wide yorkers and stuff like that.
“And i think that thing is really helping her now her focus is more on the spinning the ball other than trying too many things - I think that is the reason she's getting that result because as a spinner when you're spinning the ball which is very important for you and batter is always thinking that when if you spin it's not that easy to hit the ball.
“So I think that that was the key point which she understood that if she can spin that is more dangerous than the other stuff - I think that is something which is helping her now.”
India are ranked fourth in the T20I rankings but there are high expectations on Harmanpreet’s side, who reached the final of the previous T20WC edition and bagged silver medal in the Commonwealth Games. They’ve thus far made an ideal start and expectations are bound to rise with every victory.
The Indian skipper admitted that India, as a side, cannot shy away from the expectations, but made it clear that, as a unit, the Women in Blue always refrain from looking at the bigger picture and take it one game at a time.
“Look, I feel that whenever you come to play in any ICC tournament, all the teams expect that they do well and we also think that whenever we come for the World Cup, we do well and all the matches are important because first you have to do the calculations of how to play in the semi-finals and after that the final important match happens,” Harmanpreet said.
“So, I think the calculations that we are doing are more important than just thinking that we are playing in the World Cup and we have to do well and we discuss that in the team meeting - that staying in the present is more important rather than just putting extra pressure that we are playing on a big stage and what extra we have to do.
“We decide in the team meeting that we don't need to try anything new; we have to stick to what we know and stick to our strength and if we play according to our strength, we will definitely get the result.”
Team India’s next T20WC encounter is against England at St George's Park, Gqeberha, on Saturday (February 18).