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Grace Harris shows her new template after studying MS Dhoni

The flamboyant batter kept herself calm after a slow start to produce a matchwinning innings

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Grace Harris went through the gears in her half century  •  Getty Images

Grace Harris went through the gears in her half century  •  Getty Images

Grace Harris delivered on the words of her captain, Jess Jonassen, to provide an early example of "batting smarter" for the defending champions Brisbane Heat having spent the lead-up to the WBBL watching how MS Dhoni has gone about finishing matches.
Coming in at No. 4, Harris, sporting a black eye after a run-in with the golf simulator in the WBBL village, went through the gears as 11 off 18 balls became 53 off 37 to ensure the Heat made short work of the Perth Scorchers on the opening day of the tournament.
Harris has moved around the order during her WBBL career and as an opener has twice hit powerful centuries - including the fastest in the competition's history, off 42 balls - but last year's returns of 212 runs at 17.66 need to lift this season if the Heat are to cover for the loss of Beth Mooney.
In the lead-up to the opening match, Jonassen, the new Heat captain for this campaign, told ESPNcricinfo that Harris had put in "significant work" during the off-season and had "started to thrive on having that greater responsibility."
"I think it's just about batting a little bit smarter in that middle order," Harris said after her Player-of-the-Match award. "It's definitely a mindset change for me, and a little bit of a change of role. If I was playing up front I was generally told to just have a good crack and get ahead of the game as quickly as I could. Now that I'm sitting in the middle order the four [fielders] are already out so it's about trying to get in and go deep in the innings.
"As you saw today, I struggled at the start to get off strike, but in the past I'd have panicked a bit and either run past one or had a crack at one early. I thought [Sarah] Glenn bowled very well to me early and made it hard for me to get away. Then HG [Heather Graham] bowled nice under-the-bat yorkers so I had to stay a little bit patient. [I was] chatting to Georgia Redmayne in the middle and just tried not to panic. I know I have that ability to catch up so it's just about finding that now."
"I've been watching a lot of MS Dhoni's innings and took a bit of inspiration for him. He's a fantastic finisher, he might get behind but at the end they win games and he's ahead of the count. I'm definitely hoping to do something similar to that. Watching those types of players, they are pretty cool."
On the incident that caused her "shiner", Harris was able to offer a few more details. "I might have been mucking around in the hub on the golf simulator, I know I've shut it down so I apologise to everyone in the hub, it's because of me," she said.
"I middled a ball on a drive and didn't have a chance to look up before it rebounded off the net and snotted me in the face. I thought I was hard done by not to end up on the fairway, it showed me in the water."
She might be sticking to cricket drives rather than golf drives for the next few weeks.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo