Harmanpreet Kaur – A Trailblazer’s 15-Year Journey in T20 Cricket

Who would have thought that a girl from Punjab who made her T20 debut in 2009 for India would complete an illustrious 15 years in the shortest format of the game? This is the story of Harmanpreet Kaur, who made her debut exactly 15 years ago on June 11, 2009.

Harmanpreet Kaur - A Trailblazer's 15-Year Journey in T20 Cricket
Harmanpreet Kaur – A Trailblazer’s 15-Year Journey in T20 Cricket

20-year-old Harmanpreet made her debut against England at Taunton, where she faced little difficulties batting in the lower middle order and was dismissed after scoring eight runs. The following year, the right-hand batter was included in India’s squad for the 2010 Women’s T20 World Cup. In the three matches she played in the 2010 World Cup, she played a vital knock of 33* off 25 balls and took a wicket against Sri Lanka. Though India did not advance far in the tournament, Harmanpreet’s performances provided glimpses of her potential.

Harmanpreet captained the women in blue for the first time in 2013 when Mithali Raj was rested for the limited-overs series against Bangladesh. The 2016-17 season was a breakthrough for Kaur when she was given the captaincy reins after a disappointing home World Cup. Although she lost her first series as captain against the West Indies, she went on to lead the women’s team to their sixth straight Asia Cup title. Harmanpreet became the first Indian cricketer, male or female, to be signed by a foreign T20 league, joining the Women’s Big Bash League season 2016-17, this deal came about on the back of an impressive showing during India’s tour of Australia in January 2016, where she made 46 runs off 31 balls to script India’s highest-ever T20 chase.

In WBBL, she played for the inaugural champions Sydney Thunder and won the franchise’s Player of the Tournament 2016-17 award for her all-around performance in her maiden season.

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She received the Arjuna Award in 2017, one of India’s most prestigious accolades. Coincidentally, her maiden century in the T20I format also came in the 2018 World Cup, against New Zealand in the first match of the group stage, etching her name in the history books. Under her leadership, India has achieved remarkable milestones, including reaching the final of the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.

The year 2023 belonged to Harmanpreet Kaur as she became the first cricketer to play 150 T20Is and the first captain to lift the inaugural Women’s Premier League title for Mumbai Indians. Later in the year, she captained India in their first-ever Asian Games, clinching Gold. Wider recognition followed as she was named one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year, a first for an Indian woman.

Although the year 2023 was nothing short of a perfect year for Harmanpreet, she experienced one of the most dramatic and unfortunate moments in her cricketing career in the T20 World Cup semi-final against Australia. India was in a strong position with Harmanpreet at the crease, playing a captain’s knock to guide her team towards the target of 173 set by Australia. With a well-set 52 runs off 34 balls, she was completing a crucial run when her bat got stuck in the ground just short of the crease, resulting in a freak run-out that turned the game in Australia’s favor. Right after the sad loss in the T20 World Cup, Harmanpreet played a pivotal role as both a leader and a player for Mumbai Indians, leading them to their title triumph in the inaugural season of the Women’s Premier League in 2023. The aggressive batter scored over 280 runs in 10 matches at a batting average of 40 with three fifties in her name, and with the ball, Harmanpreet was handy for Mumbai Indians with three wickets.

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In 2024, Harmanpreet Kaur had an impressive outing in the second edition of the Women’s Premier League for Mumbai Indians, scoring over 260 runs, averaging over 50, which also included her outstanding innings against Gujarat Giants, where she scored the season’s individual highest score of 95, accelerating her innings after a slow start, securing a victory for her side while chasing the target of 191. Although she couldn’t lead Mumbai Indians to their second successive title triumph after getting knocked out in the eliminator by Royal Challengers Bangalore, later in the 5-match away T20I series against Bangladesh, she received the accolade of player of the match in the second T20I, leading India to whitewash the hosts 5-0.

Harmanpreet is the first Indian captain to beat Australia in the T20 World Cup, the country’s focus will be on her to lead India to their maiden senior ICC trophy glory later this year with the host being Bangladesh for the T20 World Cup in October 2024.

With over 160 matches, the middle-order batter has amassed over 3,300 runs and 30 wickets for her national side. As she continues to inspire future generations, Harmanpreet’s legacy in T20 cricket will endure!

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