Harmanpreet Kaur, the India captain, lit up the ICC Women’s World T20 2018 with a blazing century in the tournament opener against New Zealand in Guyana.
Not only did Kaur ignite the competition with a record-breaking century, she did so while not fully fit.
She was battling stomach cramps and needed frequent attention from the physio, but that didn’t stop her from dishing out eight sixes against New Zealand in an innings reminiscent of her iconic 171 in the ICC Women’s World Cup semi-final last year against Australia.
“Yesterday I was having little bit back problem,” Kaur said after the match. “In the morning, I was not feeling well, when I came to the ground I was feeling a little low and getting some cramps.”
The cramps may even have given her clarity regarding her approach to the innings, prompting her to rely more on the big hits.
“When initially I was running twos, I got a little cramp, after that the physio gave me medicine, and a little bit it settled down,” she said. “Then I thought instead of running too much, if I could I get more big shots … because you run too much, you get more cramps. Then I told Jemi (Jemimah Rodrigues), ‘if you give the strike to me, I can go for more big shots’.”
She hadn’t begun in top gear, though, taking 13 balls for her first five runs before careening to a 51-ball 103 in a game seen as pivotal to both teams’ semi-final chances. “I knew it was a good batting track, if I settle down, I can get the runs, that’s what I was thinking.”
On a day when she became the first Indian woman to score a T20I century, Kaur said the milestone wasn’t on her mind.
“I was not looking at how many runs I was getting, I was looking at how many we needed to win the game,” Kaur said. “We knew they have really good batters, they have Sophie Devine and [Suzie] Bates, we knew if we scored just 150, we may not (win the game).”
The 134 runs Kaur and Rodrigues (59 in 45 balls) put together, certainly did enough to ensure an Indian victory, as New Zealand finished on 160/9 in response to India’s 194/5.
And, worryingly for bowlers all around the world, Kaur didn’t rule out her batting getting even better. “Yes, why not? Because every day is a learning day, today I learnt a lot.”
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