Matches (15)
WC Warm-up (3)
Marsh Cup (1)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (4)
T20WC QLF (2)
ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2020 Women's bowling winner: pint-sized punisher

The winner of the women's bowling award bamboozled Australia with her googlies in the T20 World Cup opener

Annesha Ghosh
Annesha Ghosh
Poonam Yadav almost had a hat-trick and a five-for on opening night  •  Getty Images

Poonam Yadav almost had a hat-trick and a five-for on opening night  •  Getty Images

All of 4' 11", Yadav, sidelined with injury through the triangular series just before the World Cup, flummoxed Australia with her mastery of flight, control, and variations, which has long been the foundation of her dominance as the leading wicket-taker in women's T20Is and India's most consistent performer in the format since 2018.
Introduced into the attack in the tenth over, with Australia perched comfortably at 67 for 2 in a chase of 133, Yadav snared the defending champions in a web of wristspin that all but eliminated them from the contest by the 19th over. The shift in momentum began with set batter Alyssa Healy floating Yadav a return catch off a legbreak. A barrage of wrong'uns then broke the back of the middle order. A double strike in the 12th over accounted for Rachael Haynes and Ellyse Perry, the former stumped and the latter bowled through the gate off consecutive deliveries.
On the next ball, another googly, Jess Jonassen offered an edge just millimetres too thick for keeper Taniya Bhatia to hang on to. Denied what would have been the third hat-trick in her T20I career, two overs later Yadav lobbed yet another wrong 'un at Jonassen. Bhatiya snaffled it deftly, sealing a nightmarish collapse for the home team before a record Australian crowd.

Key moment

Before Healy lined up to face the penultimate delivery of Yadav's first over, the scales were heavily tipped in the batter's favour. She had just smothered a full toss to reach her fifty, off 34 balls, bringing the required tally to 66 off 62 balls. Yadav, on the other hand, had already leaked nine off her first four balls, three of those legbreaks. Batter and viewer alike might have expected Yadav to turn to her primary variation, the wrong'un, for a comeback. But on came another legspinner, generously flighted, landing on middle and off, on a better length than its predecessors. Healy danced down to it but couldn't get to its pitch, her attempt at working it to long-on ending up as a leading edge, which Yadav caught.

The numbers

1 Yadav's position on the list of four-wicket hauls by overseas spinners in a women's T20I in Australia
132 India's total in the match was the second-lowest T20I total they had successfully defended outside Asia

What they said

"[Yadav] is a very good T20 bowler. She always bowls for the team and it's not easy to play, she is a little slower in the air. When you have to hit her, you have to show patience and very good skill."
Harmanpreet Kaur, India captain
"She bowled the first over pretty regulation as a legspinner, then slowed it up immensely after that. We probably didn't adapt well enough. We don't get legspinners coming down at 60kph very often, and she's incredibly skillful."
Alyssa Healy, Yadav's first wicket of the night

The closest contender

Georgia Wareham, 3 for 17 vs New Zealand, Women's T20 World Cup, Melbourne
In a must-win encounter, 20-year-old Wareham, playing in her second T20 World Cup, produced a spellbinding display of wristpin that proved potent enough to carry eventual winners Australia into the knockouts with a four-run victory. With group-stage elimination at a home world tournament staring Australia in the face, and Perry having just sustained what would turn out to be a tournament-ending hamstring injury, Wareham's disciplined line and length got the better of Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine and Maddie Green. Her 12 dot balls epitomised her deft manipulation of the slowness of the surface and her reading of the opposition's weaknesses.

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha