The 170+ score in Cricket has more romance than a double, triple and solitary quadruple Centuries. Don’t get me wrong. I am not taking anything away from Gavaskar’s 220 in Oval 1979 (the most memorable innings by an Indian Cricketer in my school days), or Shewag’s 201 in a team total of 329 against Sri Lanka in 2008 when Mendis ran through an Indian side which was the best team against spin bowling.
The 170s score always has romance and nostalgia and depicts some of the fiercest battles in Cricket (Test or One Day) Matches.
The first of the 170s I remember is from Derek Randall in the the Centenary Test in Melbourne in 1977. Randall played an epic innings and brought England close to an impossible victory before he was dismissed. We listened to the commentary in Short Wave, in an old Radio which had more static than sound. The other thing I remember about the match is, the margin of victory for Australia was 45 runs, same as the first Test Match played between them in 1877. It was one of the best innings by an Englishman in the 1970s.
The second is from Sandip Patil. After being hit by a bouncer from Pasco (he was not wearing a helmet) and forced to retire in the previous test match, Patil came back to play an innings to save the second match in Adelaide. We listened to the commentary and cheered every boundary scored by Patil. While Randall’s effort was a marathon innings, Patil’s was an onslaught against the trio of Lillee, Pasco and Hogg (the best pace bowling attack of that era). Interestingly both Randall’s and Patil’s century was their maiden century and neither played that kind of innings in their career afterwards.
The third and the best of that era is of course Kapil Dev’s 175 in a World Cup match. India was tottering at 9 for 4 when Kapil waled in against Zimbabwe and soon it became 27 for 5. He scored the highest individual score in one day matches (at that time) and went on to win the match and the World Cup as well as India’s captain.
There is one more 170+ which could have become as game changing as Kapil’s 175 but no less magical. While Kapil’s 175 triggered India’s famous march to winning the World Cup, this 171 against the mighty Australia in Semi final helped them to win the semis but they lost in the final by 9 runs against England. Yes Harmanpret Kaur’s 171 is the best innings in Indian women’s cricket and perhaps one of the best in World Cricket.
Sportswoman in India are not as famous are as their male counterparts in Cricket obsessed country. But we do have real champions, Sania Mirza in Tennis (once top ranked doubles player in the world), Saina and Sindhu in Badminton, Mary Kom in Boxing. And now Harmanpreet Kaur has joined those legends.
India has produced some of the best cricketers from Dina Eduljee and Santha Rangasamy to Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami. Jhulan’s struggles to play the game is arduous as Vinod Kambli’s commute in vendor compartments in Mumbai local trains to reach the playground (sadly not as well known). And she has become the top wicket taker tells the story of grit, determination and willingness to succeed. Now, Kaur with her flamboyant playing style has stirred everyone’s imagination.
Harmanpreet Kaur was born in Moga District in Punjab. Her father was a Volleyball and Basketball player. The day she was born, her father bought her an oversized boy’s T shirt and it also happened to be International Women’s Day (March 8, 1989). You can read the much repeated story here. The girl who took women’s cricket to a new level.
Harmanpreet Kaur’s innings is similar to Kapil’s but more heroic as it was against the defending champion Australia. In a match reduced to 42 overs each side, India lost too many wickets when Kaur played the innings of her life. Harmanpreet and Deepti Sharma scored 137 for the fourth wicket where the later’s contribution was 25 runs.
Kaur says whenever her relatives came to see her off in the airport in the initial days, they used to tell her not go for big shots as they believed women didn’t have the power to hit them. Well she scored 20 boundaries and 7 towering sixes in that innings and put a full stop, once for all, to all the comments about women’s power to hit those big shots. I did not have the privilege to watch the other 170+ scores, (Patil’s 174 was packaged and shown in Highlights with Richie Benaud’s commentary) but Kapil’s innings was not even recorded as BBC went on strike that day. Kaur’s innings was telecast live and that epic innings will be forever etched in our memories.
Kaur is the Captain of India’s T20 now and couple of days back she scored a blistering century in 51 deliveries (first century in T-20 in Indian’s women’s cricket) after a slow start. She scored her second 50 runs in 16 deliveries, an innings, even, the Hitman of Indian Cricket, Rohit Sharma will be proud about. Oh yeah she was having cramps and carrying a side strain as well when she was toying with New Zealand’s bowling attack.
I hope Harmanpreet will help India to win the T-20 World Cup. She along with Virat Kohli have become the role models for the millennials in India.
Let’s raise a toast with a Patiala Peg or a tall glass of Punjabi Lassi to Harmanpreet’s success.
Featured Image Courtesy: CricketCounty.Com