Harmanpreet’s hurricane hundred puts India in the Final

 By Kersi Meher-Homji

It was an innings to remember. It reminded me of Virender Sehwag at his best and loftiest. I refer to India’s Harmanpreet Kaur’s hurricane 171 not out in the women’s World Cup semi-final against Australia at Derby, England.

It was sensational as she belted 20 fours and seven sixes, her unbeaten 171 coming off 115 balls; her last 103 off only 40 balls at an amazing strike rate of 257.50.

Wrote Ebony-Jewel Rainfor-Brent, the former England cricketer, after the match, “Harmanpreet’s innings was the best ever in a women’s one-day international.” And I agree fully with her.

Jarrod Kimber was more dramatic as he headlined his story,  “Australia eaten by the Harmanpreet monster”!

Rain delayed the semi-final by three hours and was reduced to 42 overs-a-side.

India started slowly as she lost two early wickets. Skipper Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet had to steady the ship against a steady Australian attack and the run rate of 3.5 per over seemed inadequate. But after the fall of Mithali, Harmanpreet started using her feet.

She dominated the strike, adding 132 fluent runs with left-handed Deepti Sharma off only 82 balls. There was a drama when Harmanpreet was on 98. She wanted two runs to reach her hundred and Deepti hesitated taking the second run. Either player could have been run out but survived.

The centurion Harmanpreet was furious with Deepti for hesitating, throwing her helmet about in anger. Soon after she apologised to Deepti for her burst of temper.

But the burst of anger brought out the best in her as she hammered the Aussie attack with wild abandon as India reached 4 for 281 in 42 overs, a terrific run-rate of 6.7.

It was batsmanship at its glorious best and highest as almost every ball was hit for a four or a six by a human hurricane named Harmanpreet! I could not go to sleep even though it was past 2.00 am Sydney time.

Needing 282 to win, Australia started badly losing three early wickets. Then Elyse Villani (75 runs off 58 balls) and veteran Alex Balckwell (90 off 56 balls including three sixes) put on 105 quick runs for the fourth wicket. But then wickets started tumbling and Australia was dismissed for 245.

India won by 36 runs and will meet England in Final on Sunday at Lord’s in London.

There were jubilant scenes among the Indian spectators, many of them dressed in Indian tricolours. Heroine Harmanpreet said at the presentation, “I’m feeling proud. My innings was only worth it because they were restricted. When we started from Bombay, we wanted to reach the semi-final, then reach the final.”

India’s victorious skipper Mithali Raj concluded, “Harman’s innings was exceptional. Bowlers have done really well. This unit looks compact now. Winning a semi-final against Australia is a huge achievement. We have players now who are of international standard. They are standing up every game. The top order is scoring when it’s actually needed.”

So good luck, India. Hope the Harman hurricane blows again on Sunday against England in England!


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