Cometh the hour, cometh the woman. Harmanpreet Kaur, a self-confessed follower of Virender Sehwag's "see ball, hit ball" style of play, on Thursday became the toast of the entire nation when she single-handedly destroyed the entire Australian attack and laid the foundation for India women's improbable victory in the second semi-final of the ICC Women's World Cup. (Match Highlights)
Harmanpreet, who had previously faced more than 23 balls just once in the tournament, displayed one of the finest ODI knocks ever in women's cricket history as India cruised into the final, hammering the defending champions by 36 runs in Derby. It is only the second time that India have entered the final of the World Cup, having lost to Australia in the summit clash of the 2005 edition.
However, the day belonged to the woman from Punjab as her innings can well be termed as one which will be remembered for the years to come. Harmanpreet, who is the first Indian cricketer (male or female) to play in the Big Bash League, drew comparisons with none other than Kapil Dev, the former India captain who played a historic unbeaten 175-run knock against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup. 'Kapil's Devils' then went on to tame the mighty West Indians, winning the World Cup for the first time.
The Indian vice-captain's 171 off 115 balls was studded with 20 fours and seven hits over the fence. It helped India put up a strong 281/4 after rain reduced the match to 42-overs-a-side. The Indian bowlers, led by Jhulan Goswami (2/35), Deepti Sharma (3/59) and Shikha Pandey (2/17), then restricted the Australians to 245.
Harmanpreet, who now has the second highest individual score in ODIs for India behind Deepti Sharma's unbeaten 188 against South Africa earlier this year, said she wanted to prove herself.
"I didn't get a chance to bat in the whole tournament, today when I got the chance I just wanted to utilise it this opportunity because today was the day where I wanted to prove myself," she said after the match.
Harmanpreet also revealed some details about her "see ball, hit ball" game plan.
"Today's plan was just watch the ball, hit it hard and this is what I was doing. Some areas they were bowling well but I just wanted to hit and rotate the strike," she added.
India women will now take on England in the final on Sunday and Harmanpreet can't wait to unleash her prowess on the hosts.
"Firstly, I am feeling proud. My innings was only worth because they were restricted. I'm looking forward to the finals. England is a good side and we will definitely give them a fight. It's always good when you score runs for your team and I'm very happy. When we started from Mumbai, we were thinking of reaching the semi-finals and now we are here. I would like to thank the support staff and all the fans for their support," she said.
"I didn't get a chance to bat in the whole tournament, today when I got the chance I just wanted to utilise it this opportunity because today was the day where I wanted to prove myself," Kaur said. "Today's plan was just watch the ball, hit it hard and this is what I was doing. "Some areas they were bowling well but I just wanted to hit and rotate the strike."