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Women's Cricket

Harmanpreet Kaur almost missed her India debut because she didn’t know she’d been picked

by Wisden Staff 6 minute read

In an interview with Harsha Bhogle on Cricbuzz, India Women’s captain Harmanpreet Kaur, revealed that she could easily have missed her international debut as the selector forgot to tell her that she had been selected.

At the start of the interview, Bhogle drew similarities between Kaur and the former men’s skipper MS Dhoni, who in 2001 wasn’t made aware of his selection for the East Zone in an Indian domestic competition and ended up missing the match. The broadcaster Bhogle put this comparison to the Indian captain.

“I heard this story and I thought to myself, there are similarities between Harmanpreet and MS Dhoni,” said Bhogle. “Firstly when MS Dhoni was selected for the Duleep Trophy, he did not know. I was shocked to learn that when you got picked for India you had no idea you were selected. Can you imagine the Indian team was leaving and someone asked ‘Where is Harmanpreet?’ and in response someone would have said ‘Sorry sir, she did not know’.”

“Actually I got lucky,” said Kaur “We had our first-class tournament going on, unfortunately Punjab could not qualify since two of our games were washed out. Delhi and Himachal Pradesh had qualified. Back in the day, we would not get scores online, so I called up a friend to ask if they were done with their match. I was already quite upset that we had not qualified, despite having a strong team. We are sitting at home instead of playing. So I called up a friend, and asked about her match.

“She said, ‘first you need to give a treat’. I was like, ‘We haven’t even qualified, why would I be throwing a party?’ That’s when she told me that Punam Raut and I had been selected. She knew since Punam was from her team. I was surprised, as I had not received any calls. Even our North Zone coach had not called me. It was around 10 o’clock in the night, when I had called her. I wasn’t getting any sleep, I went up to my seniors and asked them to check with our coach if he has heard anything. I wasn’t sure, whether it was a prank, I had no confirmation.

“We called up our coach. He heard and was over the moon. I told him, ‘Sir, it’s not confirmed, can you please check with the selector?’. Then our coach called up the selector and asked. The selector replied, ‘Yes, she has been selected, don’t you know?’ When my coach said no, she clarified that she had forgotten and assumed it was on the news.

“There was no news of the selection in any of the papers or TV channels, here in Punjab. Luckily, I had called and the team was to leave in one week or so. Then I called the BCCI office, because I guess they didn’t have my number.”

Bhogle also pointed another similarity between Dhoni and Kaur, with the two liking to take chases deep and test their opponents’ nerves.

“This is why I said that there are similarities between you and Dhoni. No one can call Dhoni, nobody has his number,” said Bhogle. “But I also refer to Dhoni because there was a qualifier match between India and South Africa, India of course had qualified for the World Cup, but it was an important game nonetheless.

“Nine runs were needed off the last over, you wanted the strike, forced your partner to go for a risky second run and she got run-out. Now eight runs required off the final five deliveries you played out three dot balls. Just like how Dhoni takes it to the end, even you did something like that. When eight runs were needed off the final two ball were you still confident that you would clear the boundary? Because you hit a six and then took a double, and India won the game.

“Actually, I was quite confident that if the ball is in my zone, I can hit it for six,” said Kaur. “If you would have seen those previous three deliveries, I wanted to hit them but I stopped myself because I knew I won’t clear the ropes. When you are batting for a while, at the crease for 40-odd runs, you get a sense of things. You can almost guess which ball will go beyond the boundary, which won’t. You have an idea, when you have played 40-45 balls in the middle.

“I was just concentrating on my strengths. The ground at Colombo was quite big. It was going to be difficult to clear the straight boundary, I have always favoured mid-wicket, so I decided to play either a slog sweep or step out and hit it over. I just backed my strengths. I knew I had to take the onus of finishing the game. So after those three balls, I knew I had to go for the big shot come what may. And then, things just happened.”

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