Having a fast-bowling all-rounder in the team serves the best interest of any team. For long periods, Women in Blue lacked one such player who can bowl quicker and score some crucial runs for the time if and when required. But thankfully, in the form of Pooja Vastrakar, they found the perfect player who could do them both. Pooja is a gem who could rattle the batter with her quick deliveries while bowling and could make the quickest of deliveries land in stands.
Popularly known as Chota Hardik, the star from Madhya Pradesh has justified her selection right in the first game against Pakistan. When India was in deep trouble, the duo of Rana and Vastrakar had a challenge of helping India to a good total, which they both gladly accepted. With Vastrakar leading the attack on spinners, the duo stitched a century's stand taking India to a good total. When a player of the match Vastrakar was asked how did she deal with the pressure, she just replied " I love playing in pressure situations. Whenever my team Madhya Pradesh was under pressure, my coach used to send me to bat. I love challenges".
Her attitude of fighting against all the odds and accepting challenges might have come from her life. The now Indian star and household name Pooja's life was full of challenges. She lost her mother at the mere age of 10 years. At the age of 16, when she had received a national callup, she twisted her ankle in a domestic game, thereby forcing the team to drop her from the squad.
In 2018, she finally made it to the playing eleven. She was also selected in the 2018 T20 world cup, but was once again injured in the warm-up, and had to miss the entire world cup. Injuries were always a part of her career. And being a fast bowler, these could've proved fatal. But the never giving up attitude of Pooja worked, and she improved her fitness to a greater extent and was selected in the 2020 world cup.
Post that she made sure every opportunity she got, she made it count. Although an all-rounder, she was selected on the side as a specialist bowler. But the few people who had played with her knew her batting prowess. And in one-off matches, she was sent to bat at no5, where she did show her strokes. Playing for her domestic team, she had time and again displayed her quality of hitting long sixes and crunchy drives. In the recently concluded Challenger trophy, she led her team to the finals of the trophy, where she showed her all-around performance. It was due to this, she was given a chance in the world cup squad.
And justifying her selection, she played a very mature knock in the first match of the tournament itself. Pooja, who loves to hit long sixes, didn't hit one in the match against Pakistan knowing the importance of her wicket. She played the Pakistan spinners well and her cut shots, her amazing cover drive was a treat to watch. In addition, her quick running between the wickets also added 20 odd runs more to the Indian team's scorecard.
She seemed in little pain in the match, but fortunately for India, her injury was not serious. In the matches to come, she displayed her bowling ability taking wickets, and always ensured she kept the scorecard moving whenever she was on the crease while batting. Her all-around ability has tremendously helped the Indian side till now in this ongoing tournament.
As of now, Vastrakar has scored 153 runs all-around and has taken 10 wickets. She is the highest wicket-taker for India and is in the hunt to become the highest one in the tournament. She has hit the longest six of the tournament which went to a distance of 81 metres. Till now, she has been the Trump Card for India's success. And Women in Blue would hope this player plays the most important knocks when the team is under pressure, just the way she likes to do it. If that happens, she will be the reason for bringing smiles to the faces of billions. One can hope it happens, but irrespective of it happens or not, one can be sure that this Trump Card of India will be one of the best fast bowling all-rounders of Women in Blue.
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
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