Poonam’s full moon magic bewitches Aussie girls

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Indian readers, you saw it all ”“ either live from the Showground in Sydney waving Indian tri-colours or on TV sitting comfortably on your sofa with family and friends, clapping every four hit by the Indian girls or every wicket taken by them.

I mean watching the opening World Cup T20 Women’s World Cup match between the reigning champions Australia and the never-say-die challengers India.

You all cheered India but from within you knew that Australia will win. Especially when India could make only 132 in 20 overs. Australia will reach the target of 133 with a few overs to spare, you mumbled.

Well, you were proved wrong and were ecstatic to be proved wrong. Correct?

Sent in to bat, 16 year-old opener Shafali Verma smashed 29 with five fours and a six and you were delirious with joy. But you had a sour face when star player Smriti Mandhana and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur fell cheaply and India was 3 for 47 in 6.4 overs.

Then came all-rounder Deepti Sharma and avoided a collapse. She kept her end up scoring mostly singles and you yelled, “Come on Deepti, this is not a Test match. Hit out or get out.”

But Deepti (49 not out) stayed hitting a few fours at the end and India ended with 4 for 132 at 6.6 runs per over. Not enough, you grumbled.

Experienced Aussie opener Allysa Healy hit a superb 51 enriched with 6 fours and a six. But India did not give in. Spinner and ultimate Player of the Match Poonam Yadav bowled splendidly to grab 4 for 19 to turn the match around. She was on a hat-trick when she dismissed Rachael Haynes and top-ranked all-rounder Ellyse Perry of successive balls. Next ball Jess Jonassen, offered a difficult catch which was dropped.

Medium-pacer Shikha Pande captured 3 for 14 as India won by 17 runs. And you jumped 10 feet in the air to celebrate the unexpected victory!

The other hero of the match, India’s wicket-keeper Taniya Bhatia, held two catches and stumped two.

India’s captain Harmanpreet Kaur said at the presentation, “This is a great feeling to win the first game of the tournament. We knew this track is something where we can do well. If we can get to 140, we thought the bowlers can do the job. This track wasn’t easy to bat on – the partnership between Jemi [Rodrigous] and Deepti was crucial for us. I’m happy we got 132 and that was something with which our bowlers can do well. A bowler like Poonam is someone who leads from the front. We were expecting a great comeback from her.”

I have nicknamed Poonam as ”˜full moon’!

She added, “Thanks to my physio and team-mates and family and friends for helping me recover from injury. This is the third time I’m missing a hat-trick but thanks to my physio and team-mates I’ve recovered. Hopefully, I’ll get a hat-trick in the future.”

India meets Bangladesh in Perth on Monday the 24th of February.


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