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Harman treat is due: If there was a match where Harmanpreet Kaur could think about individual runs, it is this

Whatever be the eventual result, the birthday would be a good one for Kaur. As it stands, she is yet to make her mark on the tournament, with scores of 2, 8 and 1and no bowling in the big tournament. If India are in the final, it will matter little whether Kaur has been able to break her run scoring drought.

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Last Updated: Feb 28, 2020, 11.37 PM IST
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I'm sure she'll go out there and bat and get that big one for us,” said Mandhana, in the lead-up to India’s crucial match against New Zealand.
By Anand Vasu

A week short of her 31st birthday, India’s captain will know that the milestone this year will be a different one from the ones that have come in the past. Not only does Harmanpreet Kaur’s birthday coincide with International Women’s Day, it is the day when the final of the Women’s T20 World Cup is scheduled.

If India get there, whatever be the eventual result, the birthday would be a good one for Kaur. As it stands, she is yet to make her mark on the tournament, with scores of 2, 8 and 1and no bowling in the big tournament. If India are in the final, it will matter little whether Kaur has been able to break her run scoring drought. But, India will be hoping that their captain is saving the best for last.

When India take on Sri Lanka at the Junction Oval in Melbourne in their final match of the league phase, there is little at stake. India have already made it to the final four, and Sri Lanka are not in with a realistic shot. On the eve of the match, Kaur made all the right noises.

“I know we have qualified, but the next game is still crucial for us," said Kaur. "We will be taking Sri Lanka very seriously. They've been doing well.

I know they haven't won a game, but they were almost there on both occasions.

We will be taking it very seriously before we start thinking about the semi-finals.”

Sri Lanka’s fate has been in direct contrast to India’s. While the team has failed to deliver strongly enough to get the points on the board, Chamari Athapaththu, the captain, has been on song, with 91 runs from her two knocks at a strike rate of nearly 135. Kaur admitted that getting Athapathu early would be one of India’s goals.

“We try to take every wicket in all of our games. Every wicket is an important one at this level," said Kaur.

"We just have to try and stick to our plan, especially to get out the likes of Chamari Athapaththu early. That will be crucial.”

What Kaur left unsaid was that the match would be crucial for herself as she could use it to get some runs on the board ahead of sterner tests.

After all, with nothing to lose, India’s captain can either attack all out, trying to hit herself back into runs, or afford to take a bit of time out in the middle and ensure that she does not completely sacrifice her own comfort in backing the team’s cause.

If there was a moment to put the individual front and centre, this is one.

Smriti Mandhana, India’s batting mainstay at the top of the order, believed that there was no real issue with Kaur’s batting, and it was a matter of time before her fortunes changed.

“She's been looking good in the nets. It's just about that one knock.

I'm sure she'll go out there and bat and get that big one for us,” said Mandhana, in the lead-up to India’s crucial match against New Zealand.

“It’s really not a worry because the way she has been batting in the nets, and I hope she gets one for us.”

Kaur did not come good in that game, but it did not matter in the end as India got past the White Ferns in a dramatic last-ball finish. When India take on Sri Lanka, Kaur’s contribution may not be under the lens as much, giving the relative strengths of the two teams, so if it was indeed a question of one big knock, the team would much rather the captain saved it for the knockout game that followed.

Kaur is only too aware of what lies ahead and it is not as though she has not introspected on what needs to be improved, especially when it comes to the middle-order, which has come in for some flak. “It’s a great feeling when your team performs day in day out.

Still, we made the same mistakes after the first 10 overs. We got a good start but we couldn’t carry the momentum,” said Kaur after India’s win over New Zealand. “We can’t make silly mistakes with harder games coming up.”

In the past, when the going has been difficult, Kaur has wound the clock back, quite literally. When she has been in the lean trot, Kaur has called up the video of her 171 in the 2017 ODI World Cup semi-final. That innings is close to her heart, and she has admitted that it is the one she turns to for solace on difficult days.

The time may have come for one more viewing, for an innings of even half that magnitude would mean that the captain has delivered.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)

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