Poonam’s wrong’un helps India get it right

The leg-spinner won the Player-of-the-Match award in India’s 51-run victory over South Africa after finishing with figures of three for 13 from three overs.

Poonam Yadav came close to taking a hat-trick for the second successive game.   -  Vijay Soneji

Poonam Yadav was beaming when she met reporters on Tuesday night.

The leg-spinner had just won the Player-of-the-Match award in India’s 51-run victory over South Africa after finishing with figures of three for 13 from three overs.

And for the second game in a row, the 27-year-old from Uttar Pradesh came close to taking a hat-trick.

Poonam, who now has 79 wickets in T20Is and 63 in ODIs, has spearheaded the Indian spin attack in the series so far.

She said there was some help for the spinners from the wicket at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium, but not too much. “It is a sporting wicket,” she said. “It is assisting the batters as well.”

She, however, sounded disappointed that she could not quite complete the hat-trick for the second successive time. “I had tried hard to get that third wicket on both the occasions, but could not,” she said.

“As for this game, I had taken all my three wickets with googlies, but I didn’t want to give away a boundary with my hat-trick ball, so I had to bowl accordingly.”

She said it felt great to play in front of a huge crowd. “There was so much noise that we, the players, could not hear each other even when we were sitting close,” she said.

“We have never played in front of crowds like the ones here at Surat. They have given us so much love and that helped us play better.”

South Africa's captain Sune Luus said her team too was delighted to see the fans turning up in large numbers for a women’s series. “I expected a crowd, but not 20,000 people,” she said.

She admitted the team’s poor fielding – half-a-dozen catches were dropped – proved costly. “It was just a bad day at office,” she said.

“It was not because the lack of training (due to rain). Nor had it do anything with the noise the crowd was making. One dropped catch led to another. We usually set high standards in fielding, but not today unfortunately.”

About her decision to bowl first on winning the toss, despite that strategy failing in the previous match, she said it had to do something with the weather. “We didn’t know what would be a good score on this wicket,” she said. “And we were also confident that we are a good chasing team.”