We saw her power from U-19 days: ex skipper Anju Jain on Harmanpreet Kaur’s innings – Jain, who was also the chairman of selectors, expressed reservatios on the Indian team rotating Harmanpreet’s batting position
After former India women’s captain and legend in her own right, Diana Edulji said early last week that she expected Harmanpreet Kaur to come good in India’s last two league games in the ICC Women’s World Cup, another former skipper Anju Jain has also said she believed in Harmanpreet’s abilities.
Harmanpreet did not disappoint, scoring 60 in the virtual quarterfinal against New Zealand before bettering it by nearly three times in the semi-final against Australia on Thursday.
“This was long time due,” said Jain, former India wicket-keeper who played in four consecutive Women’s World Cup (1993, 1997, 2000 and 2005), of Harmanpreet’s unbeaten 171.
Jain was the chairman of selectors (2007 onwards) who picked up Harmanpreet from the Under-19 stables and gave her the India cap in 2009.
“From the first day of North Zone U-19 in Pune, we saw her approach to the game and the power she had in her shots. That’s when we decided to draft her in the senior team,” Jain said.
Harmanpreet made her ODI debut in 2009 and has never looked back.
“She was only becoming consistent,” Jain, who is now into coaching, told DNA from New Delhi on Friday. “We all know the sort of potential Harmanpreet has. She is very aggressive and positive in her approach. She has the power to score boundaries at will, like we saw on Thursday. The percentage of boundaries in her game is always on the higher side. She can clear boundaries at will, something that is not often seen in women’s cricket,” Jain, who also opened the batting for India in her playing days, said.
The semi-final was not the first time that Harmanpreet exhibited her six-hitting abilities. She did it in the World Cup qualifiers in Sri Lanka earlier this year, when in the final against South Africa, India needed nine runs off the last over and eight off the final two deliveries. Off the penultimate delivery, Harmanpreet swung the Protea medium-pacer Marcia Letsoalo to mid-wicket for a six before picking up two off the last delivery to steer India to triumph.
“Harmanpreet is constantly looking to hit big and score boundaries. It is very refreshing for women’s cricket. With the rise of T20 cricket, you need these sorts of players that can deliver the goods,” Jain said.
The 42-year-old Jain also worked closely with Harmanpreet during her stint as the coach of the national team from 2011 to 2013. “Harmanpreet is one person who will give more than 100% all the time, be it at practice or in the match. She takes her practice very seriously,” said Jain, who holds the record for most stumpings in ODI cricket among women (51).
The former India captain is also pleased with the change that Harmanpreet has brought to her game. “Earlier she was attacking all the time. Gradually, she has learnt to build an innings. Now she knows how to pace her innings,” she said.
However, Jain had one reservation about Harmanpreet. And, it was not for the 28-year-old’s fault. Jain observed: “She has been shuffled in the batting order a lot. No. 4 is her perfect slot. That’s when she gets to play as many overs as possible.”