Mumbai: India top-order batter Jemimah Rodrigues had made a rousing comeback to the T20I team after being left out earlier in the year, including being the leading run-scorer in a victorious Women’s Asia Cup campaign.
But Jemimah had a lean time in the recent five-game home series against Australia, making only 28 runs in the first four matches. For the final game at the Brabourne Stadium on Tuesday, Jemimah was left out and Harleen Deol played at number three, making a quick 24 off 16 balls before being run-out.
“We all thought that we should give Jemi a break because we know how important she is. Going forward, it is important that we keep her in that good frame of mind. Batting line-up is something you cannot fix in T20s. I know Jemi was batting at number three for a long time,” said India captain Harmanpreet Kaur in the post-match press conference.
At the same time, Harmanpreet stated that having Harleen in the mix provides India flexibility in terms of batting options in the T20I side.
“Harleen is someone who is always ready – be it batting at any spot or just for fielding. Last match (in the fourth T20I), she did not get to bat despite being ready from the start but she was not upset, and was positive (in her body language),” the skipper said.
“She was like, ‘whenever I get the opportunity I want to go there and execute’. But I feel if the batting line-up is flexible, that is good and then you have more options to try things. That was the reason we wanted to see how Harleen can bat at number three. She was there, and was getting the momentum. Really happy to see her approach with the bat,” she added.
Apart from 2023 being a Women’s T20 World Cup year, it will also see the inaugural edition of Women’s U19 T20 World Cup being played in South Africa in January. India will be captained by Shafali Verma, and Harmanpreet wants the right-handed opener to play freely in the tournament.
“I saw the way she was leading (Haryana) in domestic cricket. She has that thing in her (about leadership) and is brilliant doing that, she knows what she is doing when leading. The only advice that I want to give her is that she should just play freely as captaincy is something where you need to think about other players too, like how to talk to them about their performance.”
But she is someone who is very chilled out and I want her to keep enjoying it. When you think as a captain, it is something which will not work, just as I do. If players know their role and that makes the job of the captain easy,” Harmanpreet said.
“The captain can just go and tell what is expected of them and whenever she joins the team she should talk and discuss the players, who have played a lot of U19 series. It’s important to go out and perform as a player because if you do that everything is much easier for the team then,” she added.
2022 has been a year where Harmanpreet was made India’s all-format captain after the international retirement of Mithali Raj and she led the side to a bilateral white-ball series victory in Sri Lanka, silver medal in inaugural women’s T20 event at Commonwealth Games, a historic 3-0 ODI series win in England, and a seventh Women’s Asia Cup title.
With the bat, Harmanpreet was in great form, making 318 runs in the ODI World Cup, hitting a majestic 143 not out against England in the second ODI at Canterbury. While she averaged 89.76 after amassing 754 runs in ODIs this year, Harmanpreet made 524 runs in T20Is, averaging 32.75, including two fifties.
“2021 was something that I learnt a lot from because I didn’t do something which didn’t help the team. This year I wanted to convert the chances when I got the start, but you couldn’t play the long innings which the team expects from you. This year was something where I got the chance and went on to stay there for the team and just keep getting those runs,” she said.
“When I am doing well the team and the people coming in to bat with me are positive which boosts my confidence and keeps me positive and helps me in achieving goals for the future. Thanks to all the teammates, support staff and selectors for providing me with what I need in terms of team and players,” she concluded.