Dirty Harry gives the tournament its marquee moment

It was a pleasant summer Saturday evening at North Sydney Oval and a decent crowd had filtered in to watch the Sydney Thunder host the Melbourne Stars in the Women's Big Bash League. In its second season, the tournament was fast gaining traction.

Set 148 for victory, the Thunder had lost their first two wickets for 60 runs. Making her debut in the WBBL - the first Indian to play in an overseas T20 league - Harmanpreet Kaur walked to the crease. Only serious fans of women's cricket in Australia knew who she was. The WBBL was raising the profile of female players but Harmanpreet wasn't even the most famous Indian player - Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami were surely more recognisable.

Still, It was Harmanpreet walking out to the middle and taking guard. And it was Harmanpreet who produced the shot that stunned the world. With impeccable timing and strength that belied her slender frame, she gracefully met a Gemma Triscari ball on one knee and launched a lofted drive over the deep extra cover boundary. Triscari burst into incredulous laughter. Commentators flew into raptures. Anyone who followed women's cricket was agog. Sure, sixes were becoming more common in the women's game, but were more often the result of a slog sweep in region of deep midwicket. Women just didn't hit sixes like that.

Harmanpreet scored an unbeaten 28-ball 47. It wasn't quite enough. The Thunder fell short by six runs. The Stars' Emma Inglis won the Player-of-the-Match award. None of those things are particularly memorable. But those who saw that shot don't forget it.


In the sweltering Georgetown heat, Lea Tahuhu was bowling fast. Really fast. She had sent both of India's openers back to the dugout: Taniya Bhatia beaten by pace and seam, deflecting the ball off her pads onto the stumps and Smriti Mandhana flat-batting a pull that looked sure to be six but was snaffled brilliantly by Hayley Jenson at the midwicket boundary. New Zealand were jubilant, even more so when Dayalan Hemalatha was caught off after making a brief but sparky debut.

India wobbling at 40 for 3. That was as good as it got for New Zealand.


Harmanpreet has many hashtagable nicknames: the #Harmonster, the #Harmanator #HarmanpreetPhwoar #KaurBlimey. All convey in their own way the open-mouthed joy that comes with watching her at her unfettered best. Some call her Harman for short, but her team-mates call her Harry. Perhaps it should be preceded by 'Dirty'; it would be fitting if she muttered to hapless bowlers, "You've gotta ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" before firing balls at targets in the stands.

But here in Georgetown her pistols were holstered by nerves early on. They weren't helped by the fact that she hadn't quite felt right on the morning before the match. The first 13 balls she faced netted just five runs. On the 14th, she jettisoned the jitters and charged down the pitch to Jess Watkin, belting the ball into the stand beyond midwicket. On the last delivery of the over she attacked again, but didn't quite middle it. Not that it mattered; another six, this time over long-off.

After running two in the following over, Harmanpreet turned and dropped to the ground. As she lay on her back holding her mid-riff while the physio ran on to the ground and Jemimah Rodrigues looked on with concern, the concerned muttering flittered around the stadium. Harmanpreet didn't train the day before the match and there was talk of possible back problems.

But the not-quite-right feeling had developed into stomach cramps which could hardly be helped by the hot and sticky humidity. Harmanpreet realised that running twos was not helping, so she did what only the best and most confident players can do. She told Rodrigues to give her the strike whenever possible and she would make sure she didn't have to run between the wickets so often.

What followed was a monstrous display of timing and power hitting. There were delicate dabs, too, and canny finesse as she carved through the New Zealand field with all the accuracy of a teppanyaki chef dicing tuna.

New Zealand had chosen a bowling attack they thought suited a Providence pitch that was expected to be low and slow, but actually offered decent pace and bounce. Harmanpreet treated both pace and spin with disdain. According to Cricviz, she averaged a lazy 9.75 runs per over against pace and a crushing 13.20 against spin.

Helping her was the fact that Rodrigues was holding up her end of the bargain by finding the boundary regularly and saving her captain's legs or, rather, stomach. When her fine innings ended on a 45-ball 59 with a stumping, Harmanpreet had the ball on a string. The slog-sweeps, the pulls and, of course, those rockets over extra cover where women were never supposed to be so strong. It was an innings that called to mind her demolishing of Australia - a breathtaking unbeaten 171 that propelled India into the World Cup final last year.

When she brought up her century in the final over she barely celebrated, a quick hug of Veda Krishnamurthy, a briefly raised bat to the dressing room and the crowd, many of them schoolchildren who will undoubtedly remember this day.

And two balls later it was over, an edge behind leaving her total to stand at 103 off 51 balls. The New Zealand players, knowing they had an Everest to climb, offered up applause as Harmanpreet walked off, greeted by a standing ovation from her team-mates.

This is the first standalone Women's World T20. The tournament needed a marquee moment and it got one in the opening game, thanks to pistol-packing Harry.

As the other Harry might say: "Did she fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself."