On Tuesday, in a re-match between the two teams, Harmanpreet again proved to be the difference through her 30-ball 51 while smashing seven fours and two sixes to register her third fifty in four innings of the competition.
There used to be a time when Harmanpreet used to blow hot and cold in T20 matches. But, in the ongoing WPL, she has turned out to be consistent with the bat while bailing Mumbai out of tough situations.
Such was the impact of Harmanpreet’s knock that Gujarat’s wicketkeeper-batter Sushma Verma conceded after the match ended that the right-handed batter was just unstoppable at the moment.
Saba Karim, the former India wicketkeeper-batter, believes that consistency is the biggest change in Harmanpreet’s batting. "Mumbai Indians have a good legacy of creating a wonderful environment that allows not only big players but also for the young players to grow."
"That is what is being seen in Harman. Apart from international matches, she’s also gained experience from playing in WBBL and The Hundred, which has helped in her growth as a player and leader."
"I believe that in years to come, Harman will be a top batter in white-ball cricket, whether it’s T20 or One-day cricket. The kind of experience she has or the responsibility she has taken on her shoulders, has been great to watch. The biggest change I have noticed in her batting is her consistency. Now I think she’s really flourishing with all her skills and it is great to watch," he said while replying to a question from IANS in a virtual interaction facilitated by Viacom18.
Apart from Harmanpreet, uncapped left-arm spinner Saika Ishaque has turned out to be an impressive find and is currently leading the wicket charts with 12 scalps. Karim, a WPL expert on Sports18 and JioCinema, is elated with the way Saika has grown as a player in WPL.
"Saika Ishaque has been highly impressive. She’s a left-arm spinner from Bengal and it’s good to see her taking so much of responsibility on so many occasions. I think in all the games for MI, she has bowled in the power-play, which is not an easy task."
"Then, there have been interesting battles between Saika and some of the top-order overseas batters. The way she has grown as the tournament has progressed; it’s been wonderful to see her growth as a player temperament-wise."
With Mumbai winning all of its five matches and qualifying for the playoffs, Karim feels Delhi Capitals and UP Warriorz have it in them to pose a stiff challenge to Harmanpreet & Co.
"The knockouts will be a different ball game altogether. Mumbai have already qualified for the knockouts. At this stage, Delhi Capitals and UP Warriorz look formidable to give Mumbai Indians some kind of competition and fight."
On the other hand, the loss to Mumbai meant Gujarat have just one win from five matches. Karim opined Gujarat have to get their combination right, citing not giving pacer Mansi Joshi a chance to bowl in Tuesday’s match, and are at risk of missing out on a spot in the playoffs.
"The Giants have struggled in finding the right kind of combination. They have made some strange choices, like Sophia Dunkley made an 18-ball fifty and then the next game, Laura Wolvaardt came in for her, which was quite strange from my thinking. By not finding the right combination, it is upsetting them in finding the side’s right balance."
"Why would you keep Mansi Joshi in the eleven and not bowl her; then it better you replace her with a spinner, as they do have young spinners in their ranks. So, they are struggling to find the right kind of balance, rhythm and combination that can win them games in this tournament."