Harmanpreet’s checklist for UK tour

Harmanpreet's checklist for UK tour

When Harmanpreet Kaur made her ODI debut in 2009, Jhulan Goswami was India’s captain. Now, 13 years later, Harmanpreet is at the helm and wants to give the veteran fast bowler a memorable farewell in England.

“When I debuted, she was the captain and it is a great opportunity for me to lead the last ODI she plays,” Harmanpreet said ahead of India’s departure to the UK. “We will be trying to create some great moments for her so that she can take back good memories from it.”

Goswami, 39, is set to retire from international cricket after the third ODI at Lord’s. She last played in the Women’s World Cup earlier this year but missed India’s last group match against South Africa due to a side strain. She then missed the tour of Sri Lanka before being named in the ODI squad for the three-match series against England.

“Her [Goswami’s] approach to the team and [wanting to] do well in every game is something nobody can beat,” Harmanpreet said. “When I entered the team, she was leading from the front and I have learnt from her. Nobody can fill her place. She used to work hard in her early days and today also, I have not seen her change in the way she trains during practice sessions.

“She bowls two-three hours, which hardly a few do. She is a great example for all of us. There are many who have started playing looking at her. Even I looked at how she prepares before games and how her mindset before a match is and learnt from her. I am lucky to have seen her, worked closely and spent time with her.”

India are scheduled to play three T20Is and three ODIs in England, and Harmanpreet was in favour of having six batters in the XI. She highlighted their strong finishing skills, with Kiran Prabhu Navgire getting a maiden call-up and Dayalan Hemalatha returning to the squad.

“I feel no matter whatever format you are playing, you need to have six batters in the side,” she said. “Having two-three pure bowlers and two-three allrounders can give you a great balance to the side. We have a couple of new players to fill those areas we lacked in, like in the slog overs, when you need 10 runs or more per over.”

Navgire scored 525 runs – including a record 162 not out – as a guest opener for Nagaland in the Senior Women’s T20 Trophy, and she also hit the fastest fifty in the Women’s T20 Challenge in May while batting at No. 3. Hemalatha, on the other hand, was impressive in the lower-middle order for Railways, finishing with 272 runs. The duo are contenders for the finisher’s spot in India’s white-ball teams.

“I was impressed with the way KP [Navgire] batted in the Women’s T20 Challenge and [we will see] if we can work on those players who have the skills,” Harmanpreet said. “It is an area which has caused a problem for us. I have personally seen them bat in the domestic season and it is the right platform for them to bring their skills where the team was lacking.”

Since the World Cup, India have also shuffled their wicketkeepers, with Taniya Bhatia being part of both white-ball teams. Yastika Bhatia pipped Richa Ghosh as the second wicketkeeper in the Commonwealth Games squad, but Ghosh returns to the T20I squad for the tour of England, while Yastika is part of only the ODI squad.

“If we talk about both the formats, the role of keepers are different,” Harmanpreet said. “In ODIs you need someone who can bat longer, and in T20Is you need someone who can start quickly. That’s why we are trying two different keepers in both formats. We are giving opportunities to them and we need to give them time so that they can get some confidence.”

Harmanpreet also said that improved fitness and fielding had contributed significantly to India winning the silver medal in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham earlier this month. They missed out on gold in a narrow defeat to Australia in the final.

“We are definitely working on fitness and fielding because I feel, if we improve in these two areas, we can do wonders,” she said. “In the Commonwealth Games, we did well but still there is scope for improvement.

“We had a small camp at the NCA where a few girls worked on their fielding and skills. Now we are going to England and if we can show great efforts on the field there, it will give us confidence. When you play big tournaments like World Cup, Commonwealth Games, etc., these parts play a major role. Skill always remains with you but if you work on fielding and fitness, it helps the team.”

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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