Should India include Pooja Vastrakar in Playing XI against Barbados?

Indian women’s cricket team at the Commonwealth Games have had a start of extremes and it is so because both batters and bowlers in the first game against Australia looked a bit rusty and lost to Ashleigh Gardner’s heroics before they stepped on the field again a day later and played like a side contending for a medal and were flawless with both bat and ball in hand against Pakistan.

 

Smriti Mandhana's unbeaten 63 helps India beat Pakistan by 8 Wickets. PC: Getty Images
Smriti Mandhana’s unbeaten 63 helps India beat Pakistan by 8 Wickets. PC: Getty Images

 

India has got a task in hand and that’s to win their final league stage game against Barbados to advance further to the knockouts. A timely boost had come India’s way in Pooja Vastrakar who’s recovered from Covid, tested negative a couple of times, cleared a mandatory fitness test and is now in Birmingham regrouped with the Indian squad for the further matches.

India against Pakistan had a comprehensive and confident win and wouldn’t have felt the hole Pooja Vastrakar’s absence created in the opener against Australia when they had a batting collapse and then failed to step up with the ball in hand and also the day’s star Indian performer in Renuka Singh Thakur say to the media “We miss Pooja” alone can justify the impact Pooja Vastrakar creates in any XI.

Pooja Vastrakar having debuted for India in 2018 became a crucial member of the team in no time as her bowling was on display straight away and her batting potential was seen in snippets. She’s now grown, of late she’s produced so much for India both with bat and ball in hand and mainly they’ve come at the time when it mattered the most for India which reflects her ability to perform under pressure situations and it’s come with time and maturity she’s added into her game making her India’s go-to and an invaluable asset.

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Pooja Vastrakar. PC: Getty Images
Pooja Vastrakar. PC: Getty Images

 

In India’s series against Australia in 2021 we witnessed Pooja’s best with the bat, in 3 ODI innings she gathered 49 runs, and then in the T20I’s scored 42 runs in 2 innings, that series against Australia showed India a consistent batter to dig in from Pooja Vastrakar. What followed was the World Cup and fresh in the minds of many could be Pooja Vastrakar’s batting heroics alongside Sneh Rana that bailed India out of danger against Pakistan in the ICC ODI World Cup that was played early this year. It was an ODI record seventh-wicket partnership between Sneh Rana and Pooja Vastrakar of 122 runs from 96 balls which saw Pooja score 67 of those in 59 balls. In the tournament, she’d picked up 10 wickets across 7 games with a healthy average of 18.30.

Now that’s Pooja Vastrakar who’s well into her second version at international cricket as an experienced and mature player who the Indian team missed in the opener against Australia, if not necessarily against Pakistan. With all of the above, it’s understandable in itself what Pooja Vastrakar’s availability for the final game against Barbados in a virtual quarterfinal for India will mean, to sum it up, it simply will be priceless for India to have her back in the XI. With everyone hoping India qualifies ahead for the knockouts it’s then when India will need her the most on those big occasions for her invaluable services both with bat and ball in hand.

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