WPL 2024 MI vs DC: Hamanpreet Kaur Returns to Form, Steps up in Clutch Situation

Last Updated: February 24, 2024, 10:45 IST

WPL 2024: Mumbai Indians' Hamanpreet Kaur (BCCI)

WPL 2024: Mumbai Indians’ Hamanpreet Kaur (BCCI)

Harmanpreet Kaur roared back to form with a 34-ball 55, including seven fours and once six.

When Harmanpreet Kaur addressed the media ahead of the opening clash of the 2024 Women’s Premier League (WPL) against Delhi Capitals, a wide variety of questions, ranging from defending the title to the addition of Shabnim Ismail were thrown at her.

One pertinent question, however, was avoided and it seemed like it was too touchy to ask ahead of the tournament opener.

That question revolved around Kaur’s batting form, coming into the tournament. In her last six innings that she had batted in for India, the 34-year-old had failed to cross single digits and while there was no real question of her place in the side, murmurs about the lack of runs had started to grow by the day, among those who follow the game.

The right-hander came into the inaugural WPL last year with a lack of big scores under her belt, but as if someone had flicked a switch in her head turned it on at the D.Y. Patil Stadium with a 30-ball 65 to lead her side to a thumping win over the Gujarat Giants.

On Friday, in the season opener of the second edition of the tournament, it seemed like MI had come to Kaur’s rescue once again. The match scenario dictated Kaur to bring her best to the table with her side chasing a competitive 172 runs for a win at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

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If last year’s situation demanded class from her, this year’s scene warranted clutch. Yastika Bhatia was looking as fluent as she had looked in a while in a white-ball match, but needed Kaur to step in.

The going wasn’t easy at the start as Kaur knocked singles to most parts of the ground and sprinkled a boundary in between to maintain an acceptable strike-rate. The challenge, however, got harder when a well-set Bhatia fell for 57.

Things seemed to be headed further down south for her when the physio had to be called in during the 15th over to treat a hamstring injury. 52 runs were needed in five overs. The shackles were refusing to be broken.

The breather came two overs later when a boundary off the impressive Arundhati Reddy offered her respite and kept the dugout and those watching in the stands, on their toes.

The gods smiled at her again a few overs later when DC debutant Annabel Sutherland helped Kaur with a juicy full toss of the final ball of the 19th over which was dispatched for six. The stroke helped Kaur get to her 50.

Once again, when she was in a rut, when the doubters had started to raise their voices, when the walls seemed like closing in, MI had come to Kaur’s rescue. Whether it is the presence of Jhulan Goswami or the environment within the dressing room or just the vibe of wearing the MI blue, no one knows.

But MI and Kaur seem like a match made in heaven and one that just fits right for all parties involved.

Anyhow, a game was yet to be won. Alice Capsey, who had batted superbly to help DC post 171 runs on the board, was entrusted with the responsibility of winning the match for her side with the ball and 12 runs in the bank.

Kaur stood at the other end and saw Vastrakar walk after trying to hit the ball out of the ground. She saw the next two deliveries go for three runs, but got the strike off the fourth ball. A boundary over cover-point meant she had brought MI within one six of a victory.

However, it was not to be as Kaur’s attempt to clinch victory with a six went in vain after she was caught by Sutherland on the boundary. The innings had ended on 55 runs off 34 balls without the winning shot coming from her bat. The clutch and form, however, seemed to have returned in the MI blue for a second year in a row.

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