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Sri Lanka tour: What the doctor ordered for Women in Blue

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Harmanpreet Kaur could barely put a foot wrong in Sri Lanka. Not merely did she lead the Women in Blue from the front, but she came up with a stunning individual performance as well.

She won the player-of-the-series awards in both ODIs and T20Is. That this was her first series after being named as India’s ODI captain, following the retirement of Mithali Raj, makes the feat even more significant.

Granted, it was only the neighbouring island India defeated, and not a more formidable rival like Australia or England, but this successful tour was what the doctor ordered for the team after the disappointment at the World Cup in New Zealand. And Mithali wasn’t the only experienced campaigner that didn’t travel to Sri Lanka.

In the absence of Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey, the seam attack may have looked a bit inexperienced. But, Renuka Singh, Pooja Vastrakar and Meghna Singh delivered.

The tour also saw Pooja making progress as an all-rounder. It was her unbeaten 56 in the final ODI and the 97-run stand for the seventh-wicket with Harmanpreet that helped India recover, and complete the clean sweep in the three-game series. She makes the lower order stronger.

The top-order also performed commendably. Though the space left behind by Mithali is large, Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma and Harmanpreet ooze class, and they all were amongst the runs. The other quality batter, Jemimah Rodrigues, returned to the blue jersey with a good show in the T20Is.

Rich vein of form

The captain was fantastic right through, with scores of 22, 31 not out and 39 not out in the T20Is and 44 and 75 in the ODIs. Surely, Harmanpreet loves to lead.

There was no need for her to bat in the second ODI, in which Smriti and Shafali amassed 174 for the opening wicket in just 25.4 overs. The way Shafali curtailed her aggression and paced the innings must have gladdened the team management.

It also would have liked the way Harmanpreet used Shafali and other part-time bowlers, including herself. A great start indeed it is for her as a captain, that too with the Commonwealth Games just three weeks away.



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