WPL 2024: 'When the pressure is on, Harmanpreet enjoys being out there', says Nat Sciver-Brunt

After captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s sensational 95 not off 48 balls propelled defending champions Mumbai Indians to qualify for 2024 WPL playoffs with a seven-wicket win over Gujarat Giants,

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) After captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s sensational 95 not off 48 balls propelled defending champions Mumbai Indians to qualify for 2024 WPL playoffs with a seven-wicket win over Gujarat Giants, seam-bowling all-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt reckoned the right-handed batter is at her best when the pressure is on.

Chasing 191 at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Saturday, Harmanpreet helped Mumbai smash 91 runs in the last six overs to chase down 191 with a ball to spare, which is now the highest successful chase in the history of the competition.

“When we are in the hotel, she is relaxed with the group. On game day she is a lot more focused and tunnel-visioned on what the task is. I’ve noticed that. When she bats, she’s not often flustered about things like when she hasn’t gotten to a good start.

“Like we saw today, she doesn’t need to. She believes in herself and her ability. She has played some special knocks over the years against all international sides and in the WPL. When the pressure is on, she enjoys being out there,” said Nat in the post-match press conference.

Harmanpreet now holds the record for the highest score by an Indian batter in the WPL. Before the strategic time-out at the end of the 13th over, Harmanpreet was at 18 off 19 balls with two boundaries. After that, she initiated a stunning acceleration by smashing 77 off the next 29 balls, including hitting eight fours and five sixes.

“Pretty insane. After the time-out, they had a chance to decide how they wanted to go about it and they discussed it with Lottie (Charlotte Edwards, head coach). Harman (Harmanpreet Kaur) just switched it on. We have seen it a few times and it was pretty incredible.

“She has days where she is really firing, and one of those days was today on the field, and when she came back into the dressing room, she was really focused. Melie (Amelia Kerr) said she had that look in her eye.

“She needed to do what she wanted to do, and executed it. She was in the zone when were in the dugout. She knew the job at hand, and when she got the chance she took it,” recalled Nat.

There was a funny moment in the game when sprinklers went off at the stadium after the 18th over of Mumbai’s chase, causing the play to stop for eight minutes. Despite that unexpected stoppage in play, Harmanpreet was still focused on the job in hand.

“Jhulan (Goswami, bowling coach and mentor) was very annoyed, and so were some other players. I thought it was ridiculous and I started laughing when the sprinklers came on. We were a bit worried it would halt our momentum because we’d had two or three good overs.

“But Melie said Harman told her ‘it’s good, we need a break. We have a rest and we can keep going’. Even in that moment she was really focused. She does keep to herself and is focused. I like to voice things so that I don’t think about it too much, and it gives me clarity.

“She allows me to do that. So far we have batted well together. As a senior player in the team and part of a wider leadership group, we are able to share our thoughts, and that is why we have won a few games,” elaborated Nat.

There was an appreciation for Harmanpreet from Michael Klinger, the Gujarat Giants head coach. “When you’re playing against Harman in this situation, the best [strategy] is to get her to the other end and not on strike.”

“There are certain things we could have done differently, bowled in different areas, trying to make her hit out to the longer boundary a little bit more was something we need to review and talk about. But, you got to give her credit because that was a fantastic innings.

“She moved around the crease as well which made even harder for our bowlers and hit both sides of the wicket, hit straight. She wasn’t just hitting them over the fence, some of them were just going 20-30 meters back. You got to give credit to her with that innings and hopefully in the future she plays against other teams, not us.”

–IANS/nr/bc

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