Harmanpreet Kaur rose to international fame with her remarkable, unbeaten 171-run innings during India’s improbable victory over Australia in the 2017 ODI World Cup semi-final.

As the captain of the Indian women’s cricket team, she holds the distinction of being the first woman to achieve a T20 century for India and the initial cricketer from the nation to secure a contract in an overseas franchise league.

Despite her impressive legacy, the year 2023 has witnessed Kaur adding numerous firsts to her illustrious career, which spans 15 years.

In February, she became the first cricketer to play 150 T20s, followed by captaining her team to victory in the Women’s Premier League the next month.

Later in the year, she co-captained India to their historic Asian Games gold medal in cricket alongside Smriti Mandhana.

This string of achievements led to wider recognition, with Wisden naming her one of its five cricketers of the year, a groundbreaking moment for an Indian woman.

She also featured in BBC’s 100 influential women of the year lineup and earned a spot on TIME magazine’s 100 Next list.

These accolades reflect Kaur’s peak influence in women’s cricket, coinciding with a time when the women’s game is making significant strides in cricket-enthusiastic India and beyond.

Australia captain Alyssa Healy acknowledged Kaur’s exceptional talent, stating, “What she has done in leading this Indian side and almost this new generation of Indian women cricket into the modern game has been really amazing to watch.”

Hailing from Moga, Punjab, a small-town success story in Indian cricket, Kaur’s journey began with playing cricket using a hockey stick on a local ground.

Her life took a cricketing turn when she met her mentor, Kamaldheesh Singh Sodhi, between 2006 and 2007.

Under Sodhi’s guidance, Kaur’s natural athleticism and love for cricket flourished, propelling her to become the trailblazer she is today.

As a pivotal force in the growing popularity of women’s cricket in India, Kaur continues to elevate her status as a trailblazer in the country’s women’s sports, alongside vice-captain Smriti Mandhana.

Former India captain Anjum Chopra noted, “Every era has two or three such figures, and Harman has been in the driver’s seat for a few years now, especially since getting the captaincy in T20s [in 2016].”

With over 6,500 runs in 290 international appearances, Kaur has led India to unprecedented achievements both at home and abroad.

In 2020, she guided the team to their first T20 World Cup final, secured their inaugural ODI series win in England in almost 23 years, and won silver at the Commonwealth Games’ inaugural women’s cricket competition.

Kaur’s limited-overs prowess remains a cornerstone of her cricketing influence. However, she also made history in Test cricket, leading India to a record 347-run victory against England in Navi Mumbai.

Her recent Test captaincy debut against Australia resulted in another historic win.

Looking ahead, Kaur remains focused on the team’s success rather than personal milestones.

Her commitment to team development and a desire for India to be recognized as the best team reflect her leadership qualities.

Despite occasional on-field conduct issues, Kaur’s authentic personality and genuine love for the game make her a relatable figure in the world of cricket.

As she continues to understand herself better and leads a team that shares her commitment to development, the next few years could witness the pinnacle of Kaur’s consistent excellence.

With the ingredients in place for an unrivaled legacy, Kaur’s impact could be marked by India’s potential victories in the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh next year and the ODI edition at home in 2025, further solidifying her status as India’s cricketing icon.

Last Updated: 26 December 2023