Harmanpreet Kaur, the India women’s T20I captain, has recalled how she carted a record-breaking, unbeaten 171 in the 2017 women’s World Cup semi-final on an empty stomach, revealing how her single-minded focus on matchday made her forget about food and water.
Speaking with Harsh Bhogle on Cricbuzz In Conversation, Harmanpreet narrated how she was harrowed by a shoulder injury throughout the tournament, and was determined to play through the pain. It meant she had to spend hours with the physio in the lead up to India’s semi-final clash against defending champions Australia, leaving her with little time to have breakfast on the morning of the game.
“At that time, I was struggling with a serious shoulder injury,” Harmanpreet said. “It was aggravating with each passing day. I couldn’t throw, while batting it used to hurt while playing certain strokes.
“I was in the physio’s room from 5am [and] for the next two and a half hours, asking her [Tracy Fernandes] to fix my shoulder in such a way that I don’t feel any pain today because I had played all the previous matches in pain.
“She taped my shoulder properly, so I was very happy that there was no pain. By the time we reached downstairs, she said, ‘The bus is about to leave. We don’t have any time to have breakfast’. I told her, ‘You have it at the ground, I am not hungry’.”
The rain-affected game was eventually clipped to 42-overs-a-side, but the possibility of it being reduced to 20 overs each compelled Tushar Arothe, the then coach, to formulate a back-up plan for his opening combination.
An on-song Harman is 🔥pic.twitter.com/q5ppEZmMIM
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“We reached the ground and it was raining, there were speculations that the match might not go ahead. I thought I’ll have breakfast then. Instead, Tushar sir came to me and said, ‘In case it rains, the game might be truncated to 20-overs-a-side. If that happens, you open the batting’.
“I hadn’t opened in my life except for a one-off T20I against Bangladesh, but not against a big team with a quality attack. I said ‘OK, I’ll do it.’ He said, ‘If it’s more than 20 overs, we’ll stick with the normal order.”
While the rest of the team got summoned for warm-up, Harmanpreet went to a corner of the room and prepared herself to face the new ball. “Forget hunger, I couldn’t understand anything. I was recalling my entire childhood. I had a lot of confidence in my abilities.”
It was much later, when an imperious Harmanpreet, in the middle of the action, was struck by a bout of cramps in the middle that she realised she had been running on empty all this while. Harmanpreet finished on an unbeaten 171 off just 115 balls, hitting the third-highest individual score in a women’s World Cup.
“It was only when I started getting cramps, I realised I didn’t drink water or eat anything.”