Poonam Yadav (R) celebrates the fall of a wicket with Deepti Sharma. ©ICC

The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup kickstarted dramatically as India beat Australia by 17 runs. Poonam Yadav was the catalyst for India’s victory with figures of four for 19. Yadav played her first match after a long time as she being sidelined due to a fractured finger during a pre-tournament camp.

“I did not know myself it would turn out to be this bad,” she said. “After the injury, I focused on the diet and on fitness. I was confident I could bowl at any time. Raman Sir [WV Raman, India head coach] asked if I was mentally ready.”

Yadav came at a crucial juncture when the hosts were cruising at 58 and bowled her first over in the ninth over. Alyssa Healy was threatening to take the game away from India, after hitting a full toss of Yadav for six which also brought the wicketkeeper-batter’s fifty. The leg-spinner came back strongly the next ball and prised Healy.

Later, Healy admitted that they failed to execute their plans against India’s premier spinner, saying, “Obviously we don’t get leg-spinners coming out at 60kph very often, and she’s incredibly skilful at that. It was more the individual batters.”

Yadav was well supported by Shikha Pandey, who picked three wickets and kept the batters under a tight leash. Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur was pleased with the performance put in by the bowlers and believes playing as a unit helped them to get the desired result.

“She’s someone who always bowls for the team, and 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,” Kaur. “When you have to hit her, you need to show some patience, and you need to have very good skill.”

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