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Harmanpreet's hour: India's hero, India's pride

The Player of the Match award went to none other than India?s Harmanpreet Kaur. Photograph: (Twitter)

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jul 20, 2017, 11.46 PM (IST) Yash Jha

 

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This was a week which began with a sparking off of the Greatest-Of-All-Time debate in sport. Roger Federer's capturing of a record-extending 19th Grand Slam with a historic eighth title at Wimbledon had arguably sealed his position in the pantheon of sporting immortals. Think Ali, Bradman, Dhyan Chand, Pele, Jordan, Phelps - surely Federer already ranks among them, but could he be considered better?

Comparisons are difficult. Especially when they are across generations. When they are across disciplines. When they are across formats. When they are across gender.

Late last year, Harmanpreet Kaur, then 27, became the first (and thus-far only) Indian to play in the Women's Big Bash League in Australia. A little over seven months later, the Aussies might rue the hospitality and platform, they provided Down Under.

Only four times in the 44-year history of Women's ODI cricket had an individual scored over 171 in an innings. Only once had someone touched three figures in a World Cup knockout game.

Kaur did it with India in a position of discomfort, having lost their top-three, against six-time champions of the competition.  India had only ever made one final before. 

When you consider different generations in sport, everything that changes with time - basically, everything - becomes a hindrance in drawing comparisons.

When you consider different formats of the same sport - say Tests and ODIs, for instance - the varied challenges faced depending on scenario becomes a hindrance in drawing comparisons.

When you consider different genders in sport, societal convention - effectively, everything - becomes a hindrance in drawing comparisons.

Let's go back in time, say two decades earlier when the Indian Men's team was accustomed to tasting defeat with regularity against a to-be world-conquering Australian unit.

Let's say the sides met in a match to decide whether India could reach the final of the tournament.

Imagine one man scored an exorbitant proportion of the team's runs, say close to 60% even, to alter the course of the game and provide India the desired result.

You could call it one of the greatest innings ever, couldn't you?

Against Australia, at Sharjah, in the final group stage match of the Cherry Blossom Sharjah Cup, on 22 April 1998, Sachin Tendulkar scored 59.09% of India's runs.

Against Australia, at Derby, in the semi-finals of the ICC Women's World Cup 2017, on 20 July 2017, Harmanpreet Kaur scored 60.85% of India's runs.

Yes, comparisons are difficult. They rely heavily on an element of opinion. Opinion, while not always, does sometimes deviate from fact. And facts are the best base for comparison.

But whichever way one looks at it, Harmanpreet Kaur's epic is one of the greatest knocks in the history of Indian cricket - Men's, or Women's.

Since we're there, let's say this too: If India are to defeat England at Lord's this Sunday, it will be the greatest moment in Indian cricket - Men's, or Women's - since 2 April 2011. 

Perhaps even since 25 June 1983. 

As an aside, Sachin Tendulkar followed that breath-taking century at Sharjah with another one two days later to win India the title. 

Over to Lord's then. Go on, #WomenInBlue. 

 

Harmanpreet Kaur's astonishing unbeaten 171, the highest individual score ever made in a women's world cup knockout game, powered India to victory against the six-time world champions setting a final showdown with hosts England at Lord's on Sunday (WION)

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