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Harmanpreet Kaur
T20 World Cup

Harmanpreet turns focus to handling pressure in big tournaments

India Women news

India T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur believes that if the team is able to handle the stress of high-pressure tournaments, they stand a good chance of going all the way in the ICC Women's T20 World Cup next month.

The premier tournament, which begins on 21 February, will take place in Australia. The India side has left for the country, to play a tri-series against the hosts and England before the World Cup. 

In the last three years, India have come close to two world titles: they were runners-up in the 2017 50-over World Cup and semi-finalists in the 2018 T20 World Cup. According to Harmanpreet, they need to keep their cool in big tournaments if they want to progress further.

India lost to England in the semi-final of the 2018 T20 World Cup
India lost to England in the semi-final of the 2018 T20 World Cup

"We were quite close in the last two World Cups, the only thing we need to keep in mind is how to handle pressure in the tournaments," she said ahead of the team's departure to Australia on Thursday, 23 January.

"This time, rather than thinking we are going for a big tournament, we just want to focus on our skills. That will be important for us and when we focus on these things, we produce better results."

There have been concerns over Harmanpreet's form in the last few months. The 30-year-old averaged just 19 in 2019 in 11 matches, a far cry from the average of 41.43 the year before. Her last five T20I innings read 34*, 1, 21*, 7, 6, but the dashing batter remains confident in her ability to bounce back.

This time, rather than thinking we are going for a big tournament, we just want to focus on our skills.

Harmanpreet Kaur

"It is a part of the game, sometimes you do well. It is about how you deal with it mentally," she said. "I am feeling very positive right now and very excited to see how I play in the World Cup.

"Performance is something that will never happen 100% because things don't go in your favour always and you have to accept all those things."

Since the 2018 T20 World Cup semi-final defeat, India have had a mixed time. They lost the T20I series in New Zealand 3-0, followed by a loss against England by the same margin. They, however, won their last two series, against South Africa and West Indies, and want to carry that confidence when they face England and Australia later this month. India coach WV Raman feels that playing the tri-series will help the team prepare for the World Cup.

"We will get a few good, tough games that will give us pointers to what needs to be done," he said. "And, even if we come off worse in the tournament, that’s also good, because the only way after that is up, so any which way you look at it, the tri-series is going be very helpful.

"At the start of last season, we did not do well enough in the few games. After that, the unit settled down. Each of the players had a good hit, they are all in good nick and they have also worked on their skills, which means you do have a fair bit of sense of security and confidence going into this tournament."

India play the first match of the tri-series on 31 January against England in Canberra.