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FEATURE: Harmanpreet Kaur in sore need of a decent score in T20Is

MS Dhoni started playing T20Is in 2006. It took him 11 years to make a half-century in the format for India. Yet Harmanpreet Kaur, team skipper for India women’s team, celebrated her last 50-plus score of T20Is in the inaugural match of the 2018 World Cup when she made a century against New Zealand women.

It’s less than two years since she made a half-century, which raises the question – “so, what about Dhoni?”

Unlike Kaur, Dhoni hails from a batting line-up of superstars hogging positions 1-4 before he arrived. Kaur, meanwhile, is a lynchpin in the India women batting order in the format and even with Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma on red-hot form, her role as a middle-order anchor and aggressor is crucial.

That Harmanpreet has no half-century in the format in nearly two years is a huge worry for the Indian women’s team. Since making a century in the 2018 World Cup, Kaur has an average of 20 in the format and a strike rate of just above 100, which is less than convincing for the main batter in the middle-order on a T20 side. In 16 of the 24 innings she has batted since then, Kaur has recorded a score of 20 or less.

 

Only thrice has she crossed the 40-run mark in this period. Her chance to “do a Dhoni” came in the recent T20 World Cup final against Australia women. The narrative is pretty similar to the  2011 World Cup when Dhoni had walked in to bat at no.5 – he had not been in the best of forms. Dhoni batted seven times in that World Cup ahead of the finals, and his scores read thus: 31, 34, 19*, 12*, 22, 7 and 25.

He went on to play the match-defining innings that day and Kaur had an opportunity to do something similar. Yet she botched her chance. As the long COVID-19 continues, the India women’s team skipper might want to consider improving her record in the T20I format. Her streaky run of form is making the Indian middle-order way too vulnerable in the format and although her captaincy has been impressive, it’s time her form is questioned.

About Sarah Waris

This postgraduate in English Literature from Kolkata has taken on the tough task of limiting the mystic world of cricket to a few hundred words. A firm believer that Kohli is a wizard with the willow, she spends her time awaiting the next Indian spring triumph.

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