Captain Harmanpreet Kaur on Friday became the first Indian woman to record a century in the shortest format, her scintillating 51-ball 103 powering the team to an imposing 194 for five in the ICC World T20 opener against New Zealand here.
The 29-year Harmanpreet reached the three-figure mark in 49 balls, punishing the Nerw Zealand bowlers with eight sixes and seven fours. The skipper led by example after India were struggling at 40 for three.
Responding, a man who knows a thing or two about hitting the ball out of the work praised her century. Sachin Tendulkar wrote: “An excellent century to begin the @WorldT20, @ImHarmanpreet. Congratulations on your amazing knock. #WWT20 #INDvNZ”
Earlier, Sharma and Sehwag also praised Kaur. Sharma wrote: “What a start to women’s t20 cricket World Cup.Brilliant batting by @JemiRodrigues to keep things calm in the middle & supporting @ImHarmanpreet who played an unbelievable knock to become 1st Indian women to score t20 hundred. I’m sure bowlers can pull things off from here.”
Meanwhile, Sehwag, another man who knew a thing or two about hitting a ball wrote: “Harmanpreet Kaur , wonderful hundred. Great bat swing in a really zordaar innings.”
Opting to bat after the coin landed in her favour at the Providence Stadium, Harmanpreet was required to walk into the middle early, at the fall of debutant Dayalan Hemalatha’s wicket in only the sixth over.
Jemimah Rodrigues too struck a brisk 59 off 45 balls with the help of seven boundaries. In the process, Rodrigues, just 18, became the youngest player to score a fifty in Word T20 tournament.
India were in a spot of bother when Hemalatha was dismissed, and another wicket would have only added to their worry.
However, Harmanpreet and Jemimah had other ideas, adding 134 runs for the fourth wicket in around 13 overs, which included a phase when India scored 56 runs in five overs.
Harmanpreet, whose scintillating 171 against Australia in the World Cup semifinal last year remains fresh in the memory, looked comfortable from the word go and, in the company of Jemimah, built the innings with consummate ease.
Harmanpreet got into the mode with two sixes off Jess Watkin in the 10th over, as India reached 76 for the loss of three wickets. Her team added a staggering 118 runs in last 10 overs, thanks to a flurry of boundaries and sixes by Harmanpreet.
The big-hitting Harmanpreet played shots on all sides of the wicket, and was most effective towards the long-off, long-on and the deep mid-wicket region.
The 100-run partnership was up in quick time, after the duo scored 16 runs in one of the overs in the back 10. That was just one of the big overs for the team.
Having cleared the fence eight times, Kaur now has the most number of sixes for India in a T20 innings, beating her own record of, five set against Sri Lanka in September this year.