Rain deprived viewers of a full contest in Northampton, but in the limited time the players were on the field, Harleen Deol produced a moment of pure magic. Fielding at long-off, Harleen took arguably the catch of the year as the 23-year-old showed remarkable athleticism to dismiss Amy Jones.
It was a grim outing in Northampton for the Harmanpreet Kaur-led Indian side on Friday as the Women in Blue suffered a 18-run defeat in the rain-curtailed first T20I, courtesy DLS method. Batting first, England posted 177, but 8.4 overs into India’s innings, with the visitors 54/3, heavy rain belting down ensured that play was called off, with the hosts winning via DLS method. However, on an otherwise forgettable day for team India, young Harleen Deol produced a scarcely believable moment of magic to get the whole world talking about her.
On the fifth ball of the 19th over of England’s innings, wicket-keeper Amy Jones, well set on 43*, was looking to provide the hosts with the final flourish to essentially bat India out of the game. The bowler, veteran Shikha Pandey, delivered a slower ball, and having read the delivery, Jones stepped down to smack it over the long-off boundary.
To the naked eye, the ball looked like it was going to sail over the fence for all money, but, instead, what unfolded at the long-off boundary turned out to be a scarcely-believable, unforgettable moment of genius. The fielder at the deep, Harleen Deol, first pedalled backwards and took the catch with both hands, but then produced an outrageous ‘self-assist’ to prevent the ball from going for six and send the batter packing.
As natural momentum was threatening to take her body over the ropes, Harleen threw the ball up and stepped outside the boundary ropes. Instantly, then, in a split second, she timed a perfect dive and not just caught the ball, but also ensured that her foot did not touch the boundary ropes.
The stunning grab was not enough for India to win the match, but it did, however, make Harleen Deol an overnight star, and deservedly so.