Poonam Yadav was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2019, an honor bestowed by the Indian government to outstanding individual achievements in sports. Along with Ravindra Jadeja, Yadav made it to the list after some clinical performances home and away.
The numbers stacked by Yadav won't let you skip a beat or bring you to the edge of your seats. But she has been around enough to become the leading wicket-taker for India in T20Is and occupy the second rank in the ICC rankings for bowlers in T20Is. Yadav ended 2018 as the highest wicket-taker in the world in T20Is, five more than the second-best Rumana Ahmed of Bangladesh.
She claimed 35 wickets at an astonishing average of 14.91 in 25 innings. It included her performance of four wickets for nine runs in the final of the Asia Cup, which India eventually lost. She was the fifth active India women's cricketer - and 11th overall since 1976 - to win the award. Mithali Raj (2003), Jhulan Goswami (2010), Harmanpreet Kaur (2017) and Smriti Mandhana (2018) are cricketers who won the Arjuna Award and are currently playing the game.
She also won the title of best women's player of the past season in the BCCI Awards held at the start of this year. Since the start of 2018, Yadav has been the top wicket-taker with 39 wickets in 23 matches at average of 21.38.
Standing at 4 feet 11 inches, Yadav's low release point with an extra loop on the ball gives her the flight she needs to bamboozle the batter. With the batter expecting googlies and other variations as well, Yadav cleverly mixes her deliveries to good effect at turtle-speed. With the odd ball skidding off the surface, Yadav showcases a balanced concoction of Kuldeep Yadav variations and Yuzvendra Chahal's use of faster ones to give Harmanpreet wicket-taking options.
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She may have missed a WC hat-trick yesterday, but ended up gaining a lot. With no domestic league contracts to her name, this WC might be the one that opens the door for her to cash-rich women's league around the world.
In 2018, Yadav told ESPNcricinfo how coach (now former) Ramesh Powar helped her develop faster delivery which has become one of her main weapons now. She talked highly of Powar and described him as a key figure who always motivated her to do better.
"She thought it would be a legbreak, but it was a straighter one. I tried it during the A series against Australia [last month] and, I can say I've grown in confidence and expanded my variations."
"He never discourages me... Somewhere I always lacked the understanding of what variations to use in what situations. T20 cricket is such that one poorly planned or executed ball can make it difficult for you to come back. But even when my plans go awry, sir says, 'It's not that you're lacking in skills, but the approach was flawed."Published 22 Feb 2020, 13:49 IST