Hit sixes to beat cramps: Harmanpreet Pak’s Diana Baig seeks World Cup high ver­sus In­dia

EX­PLO­SIVE Pun­jab girl pow­ers In­dia to record women’s World T20 to­tal vs NZ, prom­ises more ac­tion against Pak­istan

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTSPORTSMAX - HTC and Agen­cies sports­desk@hin­dus­tan­times.com Shalini Gupta shalini.gupta@htlive.com

PROVIDENCE(GUYANA): For an or­di­nary crick­eter, bat­tling un­bear­able stom­ach cramp could well mean re­tir­ing to the cooler con­fines of the dress­ing room but if it is Harmanpreet Kaur, she would just hit eight sixes in or­der to avoid run­ning. Known for her pen­chant to raise the bar on big­gest plat­forms, the skip­per smashed her way to an un­beaten 103 off 51 balls in In­dia’s com­fort­able 34-run win against New Zealand in the open­ing game of the ICC World T20. In­dia scored the high­est ever to­tal in an ICC Women’s World T20 match, their mark of 194 for five eclips­ing the pre­vi­ous to­tal of 191 for four set by Aus­tralia in 2014.

“Yes­ter­day, I was hav­ing lit­tle bit back prob­lem,” Harmanpreet 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 se­vere cramps ham­pered her run­ning be­tween the wick­ets as she came up with a dif­fer­ent plan.

“When ini­tially I was run­ning twos, I got a lit­tle cramp, af­ter that the physio gave me medicine, and (af­ter) a lit­tle bit it set­tled down,” she said in a post-match chat.

“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’,” the skip­per re­vealed.


Harmanpreet, whose 171 against Aus­tralia in the ODI World Cup last year has be­come a stuff of leg­ends, didn’t know while bat­ting that she had gone on to be­come first T20 cen­tu­rion from In­dia. De­clared player of the match, she said: “It was the first game, and to be hon­est, I was ner­vous, be­cause I know no mat­ter how much you played, when you’re play­ing such a high level, you al­ways are ner­vous about it. And I’m also hu­man I also get ner­vous. But yes, once I started mid­dling the ball, af­ter that I started just get­ting my shots.”

“I was not look­ing at how many runs I was get­ting, I was look­ing at how many we needed to win the game,” Harmanpreet 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).”

Harmanpreet felt that it was a good bat­ting track where a set batswoman could score big. “I knew it was a good bat­ting track, if I set­tle down, I can get the runs, that’s what I was think­ing.”


New Zealand cap­tain Amy Sat­terth­waite said: “It (Harmanpreet’s in­nings) is one of the best. I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to see some pretty spe­cial in­nings from the likes of Suzie Bates and So­phie Devine. I’d say it was right up there. Her striking was out­stand­ing and her abil­ity to clear the bound­ary is some­thing that’s pretty unique in a way.”

The In­dian’s big-hit­ting prow­ess keeps bowlers all around the world on ten­ter­hooks but the In­dian skip­per is hope­ful that there might just be big­ger and bet­ter things to come. “Yes, why not? Be­cause every day is a learn­ing day, to­day I learnt a lot.”

In­dia clash with Pak­istan on Sun­day. The Pak­ista­nis lost their open­ing match against Aus­tralia by 54 runs. In the face of dis­ci­plined bowl­ing and a ris­ing run rate, Pak­istan’s top or­der failed to get into gear. Only Bis­mah Mahroof (26) and Umaima So­hail (20) got into dou­ble fig­ures, and some late in­tent from Sana Mir (20 not out) shored up the to­tal of 113 for eight but that was not enough. De­an­dra Dottin (WI) SA Ind Harmanpreet Kaur (Ind) NZ Bas­seterre Ben­galuru 05-05-2010 11-07-2015 Providence 09-11-2018 CHANDI­GARH: How do you plan to stop In­dia, and es­pe­cially Harmanpreet Kaur who is in mur­der­ous form? That must be the ques­tion go­ing around in the World Twenty20 af­ter her ram­page on Fri­day. No team will be more stressed right now than Pak­istan though. An In­dia-pak­istan cricket match will al­ways be more than about cricket. And to make mat­ters worse for them, Pak­istan go into Sun­day’s clash on the back of a huge loss to Aus­tralia that is bound to sow doubts in their mind, per­haps even prompt few changes to the squad.

On Sun­day, spot­light will be on Pak­istan spin­ners Anam Amin, Nida Dar and the ex­pe­ri­enced Sana Mir, who is the topranked bowler in ODIS. But pace will be equally cru­cial.

This is where Diana Baig, who was not picked for Fri­day’s match against Aus­tralia, could of­fer some­thing dif­fer­ent. Not only is she ath­letic, Baig also pos­sesses a good record against In­dia. In fact, her maiden ODI wicket was that of Sm­riti Mand­hana.

“The World Cup is the big­gest event that a crick­eter can com­pete in. I had a good out­ing in the 2017 ODI World Cup in Eng­land which helped me se­cure a per­ma­nent berth in the Pak­istan team. I feel a re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards the team and my coun­try. I have def­i­nitely be­come more con­fi­dent and am able to ap­ply and ex­per­i­ment in the field,” said Diana in an in­ter­view be­fore the World Cup be­gan.

Diana’s is a story of per­se­ver­ance, of how a girl broke the shack­les of a strictly pa­tri­ar­chal so­ci­ety in Gil­git — the north­ern­most ad­min­is­tra­tive ter­ri­tory in Pak­istan — to go on to play cricket and foot­ball. “I have been able to cre­ate a mind shift of peo­ple back in Gil­git. It all started with my im­me­di­ate fam­ily mem­bers and then trick­led down the rel­a­tives and far off fam­ily and friends and soon a num­ber of girls were in­spired to choose a sport,” said Diana, who has played 16 ODIS and 11 T20s for Pak­istan and taken 13 and 7 wick­ets re­spec­tively.

Win­ning the World Twenty20 could be a per­fect cat­a­lyst to fur­ther the cause of women’s cricket in Pak­istan. And even though she wasn’t even born when Im­ran Khan guided Pak­istan to their great­est sport­ing glory in the 1992 World Cup, Baig draws in­spi­ra­tion from Im­ran Khan the Pak­istan Prime Min­is­ter.

“He is a le­gend. Un­der his lead­er­ship Pak­istan won their only World Cup. It’s so in­spir­ing to have a cricket le­gend as PM of the coun­try,” said Diana, who be­lieves a bi­lat­eral se­ries against In­dia will only help women’s cricket. “I en­joy play­ing against In­dia as it brings out the best in you. And it would be great to host In­dia women in Pak­istan,” she said.


Harmanpreet Kaur be­came the first In­dian woman to score a T20 cen­tury.


Diana Baig.

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