When the Indian women’s team met Australia in the T20 World Cup opener, there was hardly any doubt in anyone’s mind that the hosts were the favourites. And after restricting India to 132, the Aussies looked well and truly in the driver’s seat.
However, Poonam Yadav turned the match on its head with her immaculate wrist spin. She bagged four crucial wickets to spin Indian to a famous victory against the tournament favourites.
Coming into the World Cup on the back of a fracture in her bowling finger, Yadav's preparations were far from ideal. She missed 40 days of practice heading into the tournament, which is what made her match-winning impact against the defending champions. so surprising and impressive.
After getting smacked for a six by Alyssa Healy, Poonam deceived her in flight and took an easy return catch.
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Yadav narrowly missed out on a World Cup hat-trick as Tanya Bhatia spilled a catch behind the stumps. But the 4 ft 11 bowler rattled the Aussies with her wrong'uns and finished with match-winning figures of 4/18.
Yadav's personal coach Manoj Khushwa shed light on the leggie's mindset, saying that she was quite upset after getting injured and missing the tri-series in the lead-up to the mega event.
“Poonam was mighty upset when she got injured and had to miss the T20 Challengers Trophy and then the tri-series. However, she was determined to keep her calm and prepare for the World Cup while being in Australia with the team during the tri-series. She would train hard and use her non-bowling arm a lot while on rehab," Khushwa said.
Thankfully, she started bowling in the nets ahead of the World Cup. Everyone was happy to see Poonam bowl against West Indies in the warm-up game,” he added.
Yadav underwent a minor surgery in Mumbai for the fracture in her spinning finger. However the team management kept their faith in her, and she repaid it with a brilliant performance against West Indies in the warm-up clash.
“She was really thrilled to bowl like that against the West Indies and get back to cricket. She loves the T20 format. She plans the quota of four overs during a T20 match meticulously. She uses her variations in various situations with effect. Her googlies are her main weapon," Khushwa said.
"People will see more such great performances from Poonam in the upcoming matches. After her first over, she bowled slower and deceived the batters in the air. Because of her, a lot of girls are taking up cricket, especially spin, at my academy,” he added.