CHENNAI: In her 14-year-long international career, Harmanpreet Kaur has played only three Tests, significantly, only one at home in 2014. India's overpowering of South Africa by an innings and 34 runs in that one Test match, held in Mysore, where Kaur took nine wickets, holds a special place for many players.
However, since then, they have not represented India in the longest format on home soil. So, Kaur, now the full-time captain, was ecstatic when it was announced that her team would face England and Australia for two Tests in December. "We are extremely excited about the opportunity because we will get to play in front of the home crowd," Kaur, currently representing Melbourne Renegades in the Women's Big Bash League, said recently in a media interaction.
"We play ODIs and T20Is all the time. We have been watching Test cricket since childhood, but never really got the opportunity to play in one, at the same time, we want to enjoy these two Tests. We have gotten this opportunity after a long time. If we enjoy the contest, only then we can expect to perform better," she added with a grin.
Kaur, who will lead India for the first time in Tests, was aware of the pressure two back-to-back Tests would bring, but the experienced leader had a message for her teammates. "I don't want to put any pressure on my teammates. I know, we haven't played many Tests and even our domestic setup doesn't have a red ball competition in India (It was discontinued after the 2017-18 season). We have a short time to prepare ourselves for the Tests, but we will try our best. I am having chats with NCA and our new coach (Amol Muzumdar) as well regarding this," she mentioned.
The right-handed batter, the only Indian player in the ninth edition of the WBBL, spoke candidly about how franchise cricket has changed women's game and given them the opportunity to learn from these experiences. "Leagues like WBBL, WPL, and The Hundred play a big role (in player development). We get different platforms to perform and different experiences. You can execute your plans in different ways when you play in these kinds of leagues. I have always taken these opportunities seriously because these are the platforms where I can improve myself as a player and a leader," Kaur added.
Playing in her fifth season of the WBBL, second with the Renegades, Kaur also highlighted the difference between the other franchise leagues and WBBL, which started in 2015. "If I have to talk about the differences, here in WBBL the number of matches is more than the others. For the domestic players, it is a great chance because of the number of matches they get to play," said the Indian captain. It comes as a surprise for many as Cricket Australia was looking to reduce the number of matches in the upcoming seasons to attract more international talent.
While underlining WBBL's impact on Australia's domestic system, Kaur pressed that the introduction of WPL in India has given many players the opportunity to express their talent. After the viewership success of the inaugural edition of the competition, she believes the Indian domestic players have picked up the awareness necessary for the growth of a player. And that will help India to close up the gap with Australia at the international level as well.
"If we look at it closely, this is the ninth edition of WBBL and we started with WPL this year. But those Indian domestic players who got the opportunity in the WPL, have gained that awareness in their game. I believe our domestic season was more competitive this year because of that. It shows that our domestic players have taken a few notes from WPL and implemented them in their individual games. As a player, once you get that awareness, it's enough to push you towards improving one's performance. It can cut down the gap of almost nine seasons (between WBBL and WPL)," she signed off.