Harmanpreet trumps the battle of wits

It had been a long time coming. With their long-standing feud not an industry secret anymore, and spilled into public consciousness in a rather ugly episode last November, the 2019 Women’s T20 Challenge finale had been billed as Mithali Raj vs Harmanpreet Kaur, the two national captains vying for bragging rights.It was a rematch of the last league contest between Velocity and Supernova, making it two matches in a row of who-blinks-first, but the events of that game hardly presented an opportunity.
But when Velocity managed to reduce the Supernovas to 53 for 3 in a chase of 122, bringing Harmanpreet on the crease, Raj put her 20 years of experience and leadership acumen in setting up a trap for national teammate. Harmanpreet, and her destructive abilities at death, stood in her path to the silverware. It was only a matter of time before Harmanpreet found the release, and Raj knew she’d be unstoppable after that.With a sweeper cover and wide long-off, Jahanara Alam was brought back into the attack with the plan to pepper the Indian T20I skipper with wide yorkers. Devika Vaidya, in the middle of a phenomenal opening spell, kept a tight leash from the other end. The asking rate at one point had climbed to just a fraction short of ten. And, just earlier in the week, Harmanpreet had realised the perils of leaving too much for too late when despite her valiant 34-ball unbeaten 46, Supernovas requiring 19 off the final over, fell agonisingly short by just two in a last-ball finish.So, this time, Harmanpreet improvised and decided to pace her assault better. She’s done this far too often – buying herself time by treating a bowler who is having her with all the respect, and meanwhile marking her targets. That would be Ekta Bisht on the night. But the counter-attack started in the 15th over instead of leaving it to a final flourish.She was on 4 off 11 balls – with Supernovas requiring 58 off 36 – when Harmanpreet picked up her first boundary – a late cut off the left-arm spinner. Two balls later, she deposited a half-tracker from Bisht high over cow corner and there was no looking back. Even Alam wasn’t spared in what would be her final over of the night – hit for a couple of boundaries as the asking rate started to dip steadily.