That Harmanpreet Kaur is a star in the Indian women's team is of little doubt. One of the most well-known names in the side, she has carved a niche for herself by scaling one height after another in recent years.
However, the havoc that she wreaked with the bat on Wednesday against Australia in the second semi-final of the tournament might very well have elevated her status to that of a superstar. Harmanpreet had been going through a mixed patch in the tournament, especially with the bat, and had just about begun to find form with a quickfire 60 against New Zealand in the final group game of the mega-event.
It was however in the big semi-final that Harmanpreet showcased her incredible talent to the fullest. Walking out to bat at a time when India were looking shaky against the Australians, against whom they had suffered a seven-wicket thrashing in the group stage, Harmanpreet opted for a steady approach at first.
With India going past the halfway mark in their innings with the run-rate still hovering around the four-per-over mark, Harmanpreet decided to boost the scoring rate, and in process ripped apart the Australian attack. The innings saw her lose her cool at non-striker Deepti Sharma, who nearly caused a run-out when her partner was coming back for a second run to bring up her century. While she patched up with Deepti later, she didn't at any stage spare the Australian attack, smashing 20 fours and seven sixes to remain unbeaten on 171 off 115 balls at the end the rain-curtailed innings, with the Indians posting a competitive 281/4.
Following her scintillating innings against Australia, let us take a quick look at Harmanpreet's cricketing journey. Here's everything you need to know about the batswoman from Moga:
Early days in international cricket: Born in Moga, Punjab on 8 March, 1989, Harmanpreet made her entry into international cricket in the 2009 edition of the Women's World Cup. It was against Australia later in that tournament that she first caught the attention of the cricket fraternity with an unbeaten 19 off eight balls.
Rise to the top: It was in the 2013 World Cup when Harmanpreet channeled her talent into mincing the opposition attacks, smashing a hundred against England to earn herself respect from the leading names of the game. She received a shot in her arm shortly after that knock when she was named captain in the absence of regular leader, Mithali Raj, for the team's limited-overs fixtures against Bangladesh. It was in 2014 during the tour of England when she made her Test debut, five years after making her first limited-overs international appearance.
WBBL: Harmanpreet became a game-changer of sorts when she became the first Indian cricketer to play in a foreign league. The moment came about when she signed up for Women's Big Bash League, with Indian opener Smriti Mandhana following her footsteps shortly after. In the six weeks that she spent Down Under, she accumulated nearly 300 runs playing for Sydney Thunder. It was her experience in those conditions that helped elevate her game to another level, and one might even assume her latest knock to be a product of that experience!
Recent heroics: The 2-8-year-old Punjab native produced one of the most memorable knocks in the final of the ICC Women's World Cup qualifier in February this year, remaining unbeaten on a run-a-ball 41 to guide India to a narrow one-wicket win in Colombo. Needing eight to win off the last two deliveries, Harmanpreet displayed nerves of steel as she hit a six and collected two off the last ball to guide the India to a memorable victory.