India have an abysmal record against Australia in the ODIs. Before the World Cup semi-final, the win-loss record of the Indian women’s team against the mighty Aussies stood at 34-8.
The Kangaroos have won the World Cup six times and were the defending champions as well. On the other hand, the ‘Women in Blue’ have reached the final of the ICC event only once in 2005 – which they lost to the Australians.
Before the semi-final, India had never beaten them in a World Cup knockout match. In the group stage match of the ongoing tournament, the team from Down Under thrashed Mithali Raj’s side by eight wickets.
It will not be unfair to state that the odds were heavily stacked against Team India going in to the semis against Meg Lanning’s side. India had their backs against the wall and they needed something extraordinary at the biggest stage to pose a challenge against the heavyweights. And India found that ‘extraordinary’ in the shape of Harmanpreet Kaur.
The Harmanpreet classic
The explosive batsman walked in to bat with the scoreboard reading 35/2 from 10 overs. She walked back with the scoreboard reading 281/4 from 42 overs (the match was reduced to 42 overs per side due to rain).
In between over number 10 to 42, Harmanpreet played a blinder – one of the greatest knocks in Indian cricket history. The cricketer from Moga (Punjab) smashed Australian bowlers all around the park for an unbeaten 171 off 115 deliveries. The towering innings comprised of 20 fours and seven huge sixes.
The 28-year-old cricketer started off cautiously in a bid to rebuild the innings with skipper Mithali Raj. She reached to her fifty in 64 balls, but she quickly switched gears to don the role of the aggressor after the captain departed. Her next fifty runs came in 26 balls. Things got more crazy from there. She collected her last 71 runs in mere 25 deliveries.
It was carnage in Derby. Merciless battering of Aussie bowlers. Harmanpreet’s bat was spitting fire and the heat soared India to their highest ever total against Australia and 36 runs victory.
While many hailed the innings as one of the best ODI knocks of all time, former England Charlotte Edward had no doubt that it was the best she had ever witnessed.
The Kapil Dev’s big ton flashback
Harmanpreet’s scintillating innings reminded many of Kapil Dev’s iconic innings of 175 from the 1983 World Cup. One of the greatest all-rounders of all time, Kapil smashed 175 in just 138 balls with 16 fours and six sixes against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells.
Kapil walked in to bat with India struggling at 9 for 4, from thereon it was a smooth ride. The match-winning innings set the tone for India in the tournament. The ‘Men in Blue’ went on to beat Australia, England and West Indies in final to clinch their maiden World Cup title.
India lifted the trophy at the Lord’s balcony, Harmanpreet has taken India back to the Mecca of Cricket. Her heroics have waved a new energy which could help them write a new chapter.
Feature image: BCCI