Harmanpreet Kaur, from idolizing Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami to leading the veterans in Asia Cup, Harman indeed has come a long way. The 27-year-old from a small city in Punjab, Moga, wants to build an environment in the team so dynamic that the freshers walking in feel at home. Captains in most of the teams are considered to be of serious nature, Harman on the other hand has a reputation of being a prankster.
Kaur, who is steadily acquiring a status of being among the legends and wants her teammates to consider her as a 4 AM friend. However, when Harman herself made her debut, she was more expressive on the field rather than in the dressing room, but however as the time has passed by so has her image of being shy.
Harmanpreet Kaur, who made her debut in World Cup 2009 in Australia when she was just 19, and just like other teenagers of this era, she walked in to a star-studded team as a skinny, Punjabi-speaking girl. Recalling her days from the past she tells Cricbuzz, "I played in the Challengers (Trophy) and at that time Amy di (Amita Sharma) and Rumeli di (Rumeli Dhar) were in our side and they supported me very well throughout. They were the ones I had batting and bowling partnerships with (starting out as a bowler myself), and that helped me get along with the seniors in India team,"
She further added, "At the World Cup, I used to get to bat mostly alongside Amy di only, and since I had already batted with her and knew her well, that helped. In fact, I was so used to batting alongside Amy di that I enjoyed it more than anything else,"
Speaking on her performance in World Cup, Harman adds, "We beat Australia both times in that World Cup (Super Six and third-place playoff). I had performed well in both the games, and that gave me the self belief that I can carry that sort of performance at the international level as well. Australia have always been a mighty force in women's cricket and won a lot of World Cups, they were a very strong unit. To make runs against them, gave me the confidence that I can do a lot better at the international level."
Walking in as a newbie and cementing a place is always difficult, and so was it for Harman as well, nor her batting position and neither her bowling was fixed in the team, however a determined Harman wanted to leave a mark at every opportunity that was coming her way, as she adds, "Actually, back then, I was really eager to play each and every game. This (transition) was a part of the same plan, you can say, in a way. My batting position in the order or bowling didn't bother me, I just wanted to play each and every game for the team by hook or by crook and wanted to perform well for my team. Everyday I got up, I just wanted to ensure - whether I get one ball to bat, one over to bowl or just a fielding chance - I wanted to give it my best on the field every single time. I wanted to contribute to my team's win, now even if that requires a last-ball six."
Harman made her debut as a batting all rounder who could bowl medium pace, however, later she switched to a batting all rounder who would bowl off spinners, speaking on which she adds, "When I look back, I am happy that as a youngster my attitude was very positive. My mindset was really positive back then, I feel, and that's what probably it helped me make this switch easily. I had the self belief that I can do it. The bottom line was that I would do whatever it takes to be a part of the side and ensure that I give a performance that helps the team win. Whatever role I got within the side, I would gladly accept it. I got the results too because my self confidence was very high."
Just like many other cricketers, Harman too had a lean patch where runs dried up, wickets were not coming, speaking on how she dealt with negative thoughts, she explains, "I was really irritated at that time. There was so much frustration that you don't feel like talking to anyone, you're so consumed up in your own thoughts. But in the hindsight, I've learnt that you should enjoy that time too. The coach I am working with now (Harshal Pathak in Pune) made me do Yoga that helped me change my mindset.. to help and deal with the those rough times."
She further adds, "Earlier, I used to try to ignore (the problems) and engage in something else but then I learnt, irrespective of how you're doing, you have to deal with the situation. If you try and run from it, it will chase you harder. So its better to face the problem and deal with it and try to learn something out of it. It definitely teaches you something - the bad phase - the ease with which you accept it, the better it is for you. The earlier your accept your problems, the easier it gets for you to focus on it and work on it."
While many in India celebrated Team India's victory in Asia Cup over Pakistan, it was in the league stage when India, while chasing 98 were reduced to 51-3 and it was Harman who put on a sensible partnership along with Mithali and helped India chase the target, speaking on which, Harman adds, "I was very focussed... I knew we were five-six runs behind (the asking rate), but I knew how to deal with that situation, I had learnt it. My mindset was very positive, we were only few runs behind and I knew only a couple of boundaries was what we needed. I worked on singles and was waiting for just two of those lose deliveries which will help us cover up. (And) that point onwards the game would have been in our grasp,"
Speaking on her practice sessions, Harman concludes, "When I was practicing in Pune, sir would make me practice on a different wicket every day. Turning, flat, seaming track.. and I focussed on practicing in different situations, different conditions in open nets. At times he would make me practice with a new batsman and at times, with a settled batsman one, you know, how to score singles and rotate the strike and give her the strike as much as possible. Sometimes, he's give me a situation where I am well set... so how to get strike and squeeze in runs for the team. At times, you're batting in the middle-order or with the tail, how to get runs in that situations. I had practiced for a lot of situations that could arise in a series."