Big hundreds on the opening day of major tournaments are always memorable as they help skyrocket viewers' expectations. Not many can forget Brendon McCullum's brutal ton in the first-ever Indian Premier League match played in 2008.
India's Harmanpreet Kaur played a similar ruthless and enthralling knock at the Providence Ground in Guyana as she lit up the stage at the first-ever standalone edition of Women's World T20 on Friday.
The skipper of the Women in Blue became the first woman from the country to score a century in the shortest format of the game. The 29-year-old couldn't have gotten to the milestone on a better occasion as she helped India lay down an early marker with a win over New Zealand in the 10-team tournament in the Caribbean.
Harmanpreet just needed 51 balls to amass 103 runs, which included seven fours and eight huge sixes. The skipper's bat swing was a delight to watch, provided you weren't a New Zealand bowler or supporter.
Walking into bat at a crucial juncture when India were three down for 40, Harmanpreet unleashed her power-hitting and counter-attacked the New Zealand bowlers. The skipper stitched a 134-run stand with teenager Jemimah Rodrigues, who made a 45-ball 59 as the two anchored India to a winning total of 194.
"Excited, but it is just the beginning, still a long way to go. There are a lot of areas we need to improve. As a team, we need to improve a lot. I knew if I settle down, I can go for my shots," Kaur said after India's 34-run win.
Heaping praise on young Rodrigues, the skipper added: "Jemimah played really well. When you are hitting well, you need someone who can rotate the strike. Credit goes to her, she also played really well. She is very mature. She likes to express herself and never takes the pressure. We need young players who are excited to play international cricket."
Kaur overcomes illness to play special knock
Kaur revealed she was down with a fever on the eve of the big opener but there were no signs of it during her trailblazing knock.
The Surrey Stars big-hitter was ruthless against spinners as she danced down the wicket to deposit them over long-on, long-off and deep mid-wicket with alarming consistency. The India skipper bettered her own record of the most number of sixes (previously five) hit by an Indian women's cricketer on Friday.
Kaur's knock has certainly given the much-needed thrust to the Indian team, who have not been able to win the World T20 in five previous attempts.
'Really happy to have coach Ramesh Powar'
The skipper also credited newly-appointed coach Ramesh Powar's contribution in helping youngsters adopt a fearless approach. Notably, the former India off-spinner was handed the reigns of the senior women's team following the controversial exit of Tushar Arothe that came shortly after India's loss to Bangladesh in the Asia Cup final.
"Winning and losing is part of the game. The time he [Powar] arrived, our mindset changed and that's a plus point. He has a lot of experience and that is helping us. We are really happy to have him in the team," Kaur said.
Star batter Suzie Bates (67 off 50 balls) took on India's young pacers Arundhati Reddy and Radha Yadav and gave New Zealand a solid start. However, leg-spinner Poonam Yadav and debutant off-spinner Dayalan Hemalatha picked up six wickets between them to skittle New Zealand's run chase.