Poonam Yadav got the wickets of Ellyse Perry, Allysa Healy, Rachel Haynes and Jess Jonassen. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Poonam Yadav is the leading wicket-taker in Women's Twenty20 Internationals in the last two years. Since 2018, no bowler has claimed 50 or more wickets in the format apart from Poonam Yadav. During the first game against defending champions Australia at the Sydney Showground stadium, Poonam Yadav's hand was taped heavily. A fractured finger had forced the legspinner to miss the Women's Twenty20 tri-series involving Australia and England and in Sydney, she was tasked to defend 133. After getting hit for a six by Alyssa Healy and missing her lengths, Poonam Yadav stepped up and delivered a spell for the ages.
Using her loop, flight and guile, Poonam Yadav razed the Australian top-order. She first got rid of Healy for 51 and then proceeded to deliver the knockout blow by getting rid of Rachel Haynes and star allrounder Ellyse Perry in one over. After getting rid of Jess Jonassen, Poonam Yadav finished with 4/19 and her exploits helped India win the match by 17 runs and put themselves in pole position for the ICC Women's World T20 title. Speaking to the official International Cricket Council (ICC) website, Poonam Yadav said it was all about self belief as she really wanted to be part of the tournament.
"I did not know myself it (injury) would turn out to be this bad. After the injury I focused on the diet and on fitness. I was confident I could bowl at any time. (WV) Raman Sir (India head coach) asked if I was mentally ready. I told him mentally I was, but it was also necessary for me to be physically prepared. Within myself I had the belief I would make the comeback in time. The good thing is I got hurt about one-and-a-half months before the World Cup. God is great - whatever bad had to happen has already happened," Poonam Yadav said.
With her small frame of four foot 11 inches, Poonam Yadav is a legspinners delight. She gives the ball plenty of air, bowls incredibly slowly (average speed of just about 60-65 kmph) and ensures run-scoring is incredibly difficult. Healy, who hit a fifty in Sydney, admitted that they were totally outplayed by Poonam Yadav and India.
"She bowled that first over pretty regulation as a leg-spinner and then slowed it up immensely after that, so we probably just didn't adapt to that well enough. We've planned for that. We just didn't probably play as smart as what we should have. Obviously we don't get leg-spinners coming out at 60kmph very often, and she's incredibly skilful at that. It was more the individual batters," Healy remarked.
Harmanpreet Kaur, the India women's cricket team pacer, was full of praise for Poonam Yadav, remarking that she is ready to step up to the team effort when required.
"It's not easy to play because she's a little slower in the air, but in T20 format she loves to bowl with a nice lead. When you have to hit her, you need to show some patience, and you need to have very good skill. I think that is a reason we kept her bowling, and we gave her when we needed a wicket, and she did a great job. You get one wicket then you can always turn the game for you, and that's what happened," Harmanpreet Kaur said.
India will next take on Bangladesh on February 24 at the WACA ground in Perth followed by another huge encounter against New Zealand on February 27 at the Junction Oval. A win for India in both the games will seal their spot in the semi-final.