Melbourne Renegades have topped the table with their astonishing winning streak. Led by a young captain in Sophie Molineux, the entire team joined forces to retain the top spot. However, a certain cricketer of colossal batting talent stood out.
And gladly so, for it was time. The way Harmanpreet Kaur has picked up lost form and given her best in transforming the fortunes of the side’s batting unit is a key standout tale of WBBL 2021.
The WBBL in 2021 has been a tournament set ablaze by her batting finesse. But it’s not just been about the big runs, which as on date measure to 390 from 10 games.
How’s that for some turnaround in form?
Moreover, the thing that’s worked in her favour has been Harmanpreet Kaur’s her bowling capability. Her all-round skills, composure and fine analysis of the game have gone hand-in-hand to build and setup her innings.
This was evident from the opening match when Harmanpreet Kaur carefully planned her innings during the chase. Also, her role as a finisher has gained a lot of prominence in this season of WBBL.
Two set players Jemimah and Courtney Webb fell in the same over and she had to stem the occurrence of a possible collapse initially and then finish the match.
The Hobart Hurricanes bowlers were tightening the screws at one end, which she countered by taking time to build the innings in the next four overs. In the penultimate over, she changed gears and sealed the match in the final over.
Being the experienced campaigner in her team, she became the core player whose performance is directly proportional to the team’s performance.
In the ten matches Renegades played so far, they chased about five matches. Her strike rate while chasing is 123.10 while defending is 133.11. In the match against Perth Scorchers, Harman was dismissed for 13-runs and that was the only instance when she couldn’t finish the match.
But, her strike rate while chasing is more consistent than the later and sealed all the matches for her team except for the one against Perth Scorchers.
She staged her comeback by tackling her shortcomings like her batting against spin and right-arm off-break bowling. She worked on her bowling skills when she was advanced as a main bowler alongside the other key bowlers in the Renegades team.
In the two series that she played against England and Australia, her form was a concern and India toppled when Harman couldn’t lead the batting order. She scored 121 runs at a strike rate of 128.78, averaging 20.17 in the six matches that she played in T20 Internationals.
On the contrary, the 32-year-old had a phenomenal season this year. She struck at an average strike rate of 78 which has surpassed the previous best of 59.20 in the 2016 edition of WBBL. She is currently the second highest run-getter of this season.
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Harmanpreet Kaur picked only one wicket in the two matches she opted to bowl for India. She is the sixth bowling option that India has, but witnessing her decent bowling record in the tournament, India could make use of her valuable bowling proficiency in the upcoming series. So far she picked 13 wickets and is the seventh highest wicket-taker.
She single-handedly shouldered the responsibility of batting against top teams like Sydney Sixers and Brisbane Heat. This competence of playing against such big teams has helped experienced campaigners to play in accordance with different conditions.
There was no static template to bat for her, but adaptability was one of the main reasons behind the redemption of her form.
Calculative risk taking, such as going for the big shots only after spending time on the wicket on some occasions, and on the others, instantly upon arrival have benefitted her batting big time.
The Renegades too, on their part have pulled all their weight behind Harmanpreet Kaur, which has paid off well. Moreover, an improved WBBL form also has great significance for the Indian team.
India have an unsettled middle-order which has become an effortless task for the top-ranked teams like Australia, England and South Africa. Harmanpreet Kaur’s present form adds more depth to the Indian batting, specifically while chasing.
The world knows what an in-form Harmanpreet Kaur can do to a side’s batting, almost single-handedly in the shortest form of the game. Except it were the White Ferns that learnt it the rather hard way when in the T20 World Cup of 2018, the blistering right-hander took just 51 deliveries to score a 103, which guided India to an imposing 194 on the board.
Moreover, Harmanpreet Kaur’s form was a revelation in a way besides being crucial for India‘s great run at the 2017 World cup.
The inning that captured an entire cricket-viewing audience’s imagnination.
Now that India have only five months- not more- before they head to the revered ICC tournament, this is a much-needed preparatory phase for key players like Smriti Mandhana, fresh from a mega WBBL century, Poonam Yadav, Jemimah Rodrigues & Deepti Sharma.
But batters like Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur in the squad are in some smashing form. Can the others chip in too and lend the much-needed stability the entire unit still needs instead of patchy brilliance evident much of this year especially in series against the touring Proteas women?
While there’s still time to examine that, what hasn’t taken much time, however, is to see how the Renegades have benefitted from a fiery Harmanpreet Kaur in their ranks.
All set for the playoffs, it’s not hard to see what’s impacted the well composed unit, isn’t it?