A week before the commencement of the Women's Big Bash League, the world of cricket, especially the Indian fans, were concerned about the form of destructive batter, Harmanpreet Kaur. One of the most talked-about topics on the women's circuit was the lack of runs and injury concerns revolving around Harmnapreet in the recently-concluded series against Australia. However, the 32-year old has silenced her critics with a scintillating performance in the ongoing WBBL and etched her name in the history books to become the first Indian player to be named as the player of the tournament.
With 399 runs in 11 innings at a strike rate of 135.25 and 15 wickets, Harmanpreet Kaur has enthralled millions of fans all across the globe in over a month of riveting action featuring some of the top domestic and international players. Her all-around abilities propelled the side to the knockout stages of the competition and will face Adelaide Strikers for a place in the summit clash of the competition against Perth Scorchers.
While the tournament has been a catalyst behind the rise of Australian players on the domestic circuit, this edition of the extravaganza provided the eight Indian players with an ideal opportunity to compete with the best in the world whilst getting some much-needed practice before the gruelling World Cup in four months.
The skipper of the Indian side in the shortest format of the game, Harmanpreet, shared insights on the impact of the tournament by saying, "Playing any tournament will give you lots of confidence, and WBBL is something, you know, it's a very, very big platform back home. Every Indian wants to play in this league, and I was the first one who got this opportunity to play. Today, you know, winning this player of the tournament definitely gives lots of confidence to Indian girls."
One of the standout features about her batting in this edition of the extravaganza has been her ability to take the attack of the opposition bowling unit from the get-go. The middle-order batter has a strike rate of 135.2, which is the best among players with a minimum of 150 runs and often powered the team over the line with some lusty blows. In addition, she has smashed 18 hits over the fence, which is the most number of sixes in the tournament.
In the league match against Sydney Thunder, Harmanpreet displayed an array of strokes all around the ground to smash an unbeaten 81 off 55 deliveries studded with 11 boundaries and two massive sixes to help the Renegades edge past the reigning champions and top the table.
After the completion of the league stage, Harmanpreet was the leading run-scorer for the side and picked up the most wickets for them to propel them to eight wins in 14 encounters. Her exploits in the tournament also resulted in her inclusion in the WBBL team of the tournament, which also included Sophie Devine as the other international player.
A stern test awaits
One of the mainstays in the middle-order for the Women in Blue, the team management will be relived witnessing the sublime performance of their premier batter, given the upcoming World Cup. While the middle-order of the Indian side has been under the pump due to their dismal strike rate and lack of ability to rotate the strike, the onus to guide them through the challenging phase in the high-voltage tournament will rely heavily on Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur.
In the last three world events, the Indian team has come agonisingly close to the coveted trophy and will look to get a step further and carve their name in the record books.