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ESPNcricinfo Awards 2017 Women's batting winner: Harmy goes bananas

India were 35 for 2. Then, one woman decided to take things into her own hands

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
Harmanpreet put the pedal to the metal against Australia  •  Getty Images

Harmanpreet put the pedal to the metal against Australia  •  Getty Images

In February 2017, Harmanpreet's final-over six helped India clinch the Women's World Cup qualifier title. Four months later, she made an even bigger leap into the record books with an astounding knock that blew away defending champions Australia in the semi-final of the Women's World Cup.
Harmanpreet hadn't had the best of World Cups coming into the semi-final. She had aggregated 137 runs in six innings. But in a pressure match, she raised her game to another level in a display of power-hitting seldom seen before from an India women cricketer.
Given the occasion, quality of opposition, and the muscular cramps she fought through on a hot day, her unbeaten 171 off just 115 deliveries was arguably one of the great ODI knocks in women's cricket history, one that took India a step closer to their World Cup dream.
She walked out to bat under overcast skies. When she walked off to a standing ovation, not just from the spectators but also from the members of the Australian team, the ground was bathed in bright sunshine. In many ways, it reflected the turnaround in India's fortunes, for they had converted 35 for 2 into a match-winning 281 for 4 in a truncated 42-overs contest.

Key moment

Harmanpreet had scratched her way to 35 off 49 deliveries when Alyssa Healy, standing up to seamer Megan Schutt, missed a leg-side stumping. The reprieve might have freed Harmanpreet, but cramps and severe wrist pain restricted her range. An 11-minute break to fix a stump camera allowed her some breathing space. After the break, she went into overdrive, with India hitting 51 in the first three overs of the batting Powerplay.
The ferocity of Harmanpreet's leg-side hitting kept getting better, largely firing boundaries in the arc between deep square and long-on. Between her sixes, she hit 20 fours and took a liking to left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen, who was carted for 45 runs off 20 deliveries.
Harmanpreet could have also been run out on 98, but for a stroke of luck. Deepti Sharma turned down a second, only to be berated by a fuming Harmanpreet, who had somehow scampered through. Harmanpreet could easily have lost her focus there, but she gathered her wits and went on to produce a masterclass.

The numbers

4 Harmanpreet's score was the fourth-highest individual score in women's World Cups, and the highest by an Indian.
71.3 The percentage of Harmanpreet's runs that came in boundaries. And she made 60.85% of her team's runs: the third biggest contribution to the team score in women's cricket history.
7 The number of sixes Harmanpreet hit, the most by an Indian woman in an innings. The previous record was four, by Thirush Kamini against Ireland earlier in the year.

What they said

"The innings was out of this world. If you put it into context - against Australia, in a semi-final, to play at Lord's - I don't know how she's played with that freedom and power. It was unbelievable hitting,"
- Former England women captain Charlotte Edwards to BBC Sport
"Haven't seen such single-handed dominance in a long, long time. It's Harmanpreet Kaur vs Australia."
- Sanjay Manjrekar on commentary
"I've seen her bat like that before but not for that long, and she hit the ball incredibly well today. We've seen a couple of big innings this World Cup, but that's probably the best one yet given the what was on the line; a place in the final."
- Australia vice-captain Alex Blackwell

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo