Leg-spinner Poonam Yadav bowled India to an upset 17-run win over defending champions Australia in the opening game of the women’s Twenty20 World Cup in Sydney on Friday.
India were restricted to 132/4 off their 20 overs and a half-century from Australian opener Alyssa Healy appeared to have put the home team on track for victory.
But the dangerous Yadav took 4-19 to halt their momentum, with Australia all out for 115 with one ball to spare.
Harmanpreet, how proud are you of your team after that performance? Australia were 60 for 2 chasing 130. Did you still believe you could win the game at that point?
HARMANPREET KAUR: Yes, definitely. We do have very good spinners who can always turn the game for us, and that’s what we were discussing. Sometimes it doesn’t happen when other teams get a partnership, but once you get one wicket then you can always turn the game for you, and that’s what exactly happened. Poonam did a great job for us, and I think credit goes to our bowlers. They trust themselves and won the game for us.
Just a word on Poonam. You held her back until I think it was about the ninth. Was that always going to be a tactic to try and have her bowl quite deep into the innings?
HARMANPREET KAUR: Yes, definitely, because she is a very good T20 bowler. She’s someone who always bowls for the team, and it’s not easy to play her because she’s a little slower in the air. When you have to hit her, you need to show some patience, and you need to have very good skill, and I think that is a reason and we brought her when we needed a wicket, and she did a great job.
Harmanpreet, you spoke before about how you were relying on your top four batters. But when you struggled at the start of your batting innings, did you worry about the middle order having to rebuild. And how good a job do you think they did in terms of that rebuild?
HARMANPREET KAUR: Well, our plan was very simple. We wanted to use the first six overs, and we got 40, 45 runs in the first six overs, and later on we just were looking for singles. I know our top three batters got out early. But in T20 format sometimes you have to take risks because when you’re looking for 140, 130. Australia has quite a long batting, and you cannot always think, okay, 140, 150 is a defendable total. But initially we were looking for a bigger total, but our plan was 140, 135 if we can score and then later on the bowlers can do the job for us.
Did the pitch surprise you in having to readjust your score, your target?
HARMANPREET KAUR: Not really. I knew this pitch because I have played quite a few games on this wicket, and I knew it’s a little sticky wicket. In T20 the batter always looks for runs, and when you’re not getting runs you can easily lose your wicket, and that’s what exactly happened.
Harmanpreet, were you surprised by the Australian batting order? Ashleigh Gardner slid down to No. 5 and Ellyse Perry obviously came out quite late. It was a little different to what happened in the Tri-Series?
HARMANPREET KAUR: Well, in T20 format you cannot set your battling lineup, you have to keep changing according to the situation, and that’s what I think they did. We just wanted to stick to our plan. We are not worried what other teams are doing, we just want to do what we know as a team, and we just stick to our plans.
Harmanpreet, a result like this, how much can that take pressure off for the next week or so given the position it puts you in the group and the games you have ahead? Does it make life a little bit easier?
HARMANPREET KAUR: Well, in T20 format you cannot relax at any moment because T20 format is such that any team can beat any one. You have to keep winning and you have to keep motivating your team because in T20 format, you cannot rely on one win. Of course we are very happy because it was the first game and we wanted to win, and this game is going to set the tone for us. But we know our upcoming games are very important for us. We have to win those games also.
After all the buildup to this tournament, this match is this one of the most important and special victories you have had?
HARMANPREET KAUR: Well, every week is important to us because you do all the hard work to win the game for your team and every game is important. Definitely this game was important because it was the first game of the tournament, and we knew winning the first game can get a lot of positivity.
Harmanpreet, you did win the match, but what about the batting of the Indian side? Are you happy with the batting?
HARMANPREET KAUR: See, we did get a good start in the first six overs. I know Smriti and my wicket was very important for the team, and we both didn’t play the right shot. But it does happen in the T20 format. You see other players are also there to support you, and we are really happy that Deepti and Jemi (Jemimah Rodrigues) did a great job for the team. I think the partnership between Deepti and Jemi played a very big role for us. See, sometimes it’s always not possible that your whole batting order clicks; they did the job for us and we are happy about that.
Poonam, I want to get confirmation of the injury that you’ve had, which finger, and the bandaging that you’ve got on there, is that the same finger or is that another issue?
POONAM YADAV: The same thing.
And it was a fracture; is that correct?
POONAM YADAV: Yeah, yeah.
Is it still painful?
POONAM YADAV: A little.