Leg-spinner Poonam Yadav bowled a match-winning spell on her comeback from injury to power India to a stunning 17-run win over defending champions Australia in the opening match of the T20 World Cup in Sydney on Friday.

Put in to bat, India struggled to a below par 132 with Deepti Sharma top-scoring with an unbeaten 49. Then Poonam Yadav (4/19 in 4 overs) foxed the opponents with her googlies, turning the match decisively into her team’s favour. Australia, who have won the competition four times in six editions, were all out for 115 in 19.5 overs

India vs Australia – as it happened

“A bowler like Poonam is someone who leads from the front. We were expecting a great comeback from her. Our team is looking nice, earlier we depended on two-three players,” India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur said after the match.

Yadav, who missed the preceding tri-series due to a hand injury, also got good support from other bowlers including pacer Shikha Pandey, who took three wickets. The 28-year-old from Agra was on a hat-trick but narrowly missed out as wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia dropped a difficult chance.

Australia were off to a good start to their chase with opener Alyssa Healy making a 35-ball 51, laced with six boundaries and a six.

However, Indian spinners triggered a collapse with Yadav taking the wickets of Rachael Haynes and Ellyse Perry in consecutive balls as Australia suddenly slipped to 82/6. Ashleigh Gardner (34 off 36) tried her bit but didn’t get any support from the other end.

Earlier, India squandered a flying start after 16-year-old Shafali Verma took India to 40 for no loss in four overs with a typically aggressive 29 off 15 balls. But her fall derailed the innings left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen (2/24) snapped two quick wickets, Smriti Mandhana (10 off 11) and Harmanpreet (2 off 5) to reduce India to 47/3.

Sharma then shared 53 runs with Jemimah Rodrigues (26 off 33) to bring up the 100 in the 16th over. For Australia, Ellyse Perry (1/15) and Delissa Kimmince (1/24) were the other wicket-takers.

The tournament-opener saw a record 13,000 plus attendance with a sizeable chunk supporting India. India next play against Bangladesh in Perth on February 24.

“It was great for me to come back from injury and perform like this. It was the third time that I was on a hat-trick but satisfied that I was able to do the job for the team,” said Poonam at the post-match presentation.

With PTI Inputs