When she was quarantined in Mumbai ahead of the Women’s T20 Challenge in UAE, leg-spinner Poonam Yadav had nothing to do except watch IPL games on television. Seeing her idol Rashid Khan bowl, the 29-year-old spinner from Agra itched to turn her arm. Now she has flown to Dubai, only to enter another six-day quarantine period.
“It is tough to be in quarantine and be all by myself. I have been listening to music, doing my exercises and lifting weights in the room. When I see Rashid Khan bowl for Sunrisers Hyderabad, I get so excited and feel like going to UAE and just start bowling. I want to make most of the UAE trip and just play competitive cricket. That feeling of taking a wicket and thereafter celebrating is missing in life,” said Yadav, who will play for Supernovas led by Harmanpreet Kaur.
Three teams, Supernova, Velocity and Trailblazers, will play the Women’s T20 Challenge from November 2. The final is on November 9.
“I have worked hard on bowling top-spin in recent months,” said the leg-spinner whose haul of 95 wickets in 67 T20Is makes her one of the best spinners in the world now.
Much as she is looking forward to cricket after a seven-month break due to Covid-19, Yadav knows it won’t be easy. “We need to practice in UAE and adjust to the conditions. . The UAE will have sluggish wickets. Initially, for two months the lockdown seemed good. We could spend ample time with family and be at home. But after that, it really got bugging,” she said. “After the T20 World Cup (final) in Australia (on March 8), before we could talk about our journey or move forward, Covid-19 gripped the world…,” said Yadav referring to the competition where she took 10 wickets and India finished runners-up.
Yadav had impressed in the first game against Australia by taking four wickets and setting up India’s win. At that time, there was a buzz that teams in the Big Bash would give her a contract for this season. Yadav too was hopeful of playing in the Australian T20 league, but Covid-19 and the Women’s T20 Challenge in UAE came in the way.
“It was really disappointing to lose out on a chance to get into WBBL. I had a good stint in the T20 World Cup and I suppose it was the best time to bag a contract. Players like Harmanpreet, Smriti Mandhana, Veda Krishnamurthy have played in previous WBBL editions. It did great for their confidence and exposure. Hopefully, next season something will come my way,” said the diminutive Yadav.
In 2018, Yadav was ranked No. 2 in T20 ICC rankings. She has slid to eighth with no cricket taking place after T20 World Cup 2020 for Indian women. “The Indian women’s team has been doing well since 2017 World Cup. We reached the finals in 2017 World Cup and made it to semi-finals of T20 World Cup 2018. Making it to the 2020 T20 World Cup finals was also an excellent feat. I wish we could convert these into victories. It is very important that we play a lot of cricket in the coming years in order to be a top side in the world,” said Yadav.