Sydney: A finger fracture leaving her T20 World Cup participation in doubt, India leggie Poonam Yadav says self belief gave her the confidence of playing the showpiece and it showed in her demolition of Australia in the opening match here.
Injured during a pre-tournament camp in December, the canny leg-spinner missed the preparatory tri-series in Australia and her participation in the showpiece was thrown into doubt.
But the way she bamboozled Australia in the tournament opener, her absence may have been a blessing rather than a curse. Poonam took four wickets to help India win by 17 runs on Friday.
"I did not know myself it (injury) would turn out to be this bad. After the injury I focused on the diet and on fitness," she said.
"I was confident I could bowl at any time. (WV) Raman Sir (India head coach) asked if I was mentally ready. I told him mentally I was, but it was also necessary for me to be physically prepared," Poonam was quoted as saying by the ICC.
The 28-year-old bowler said she never lost hope of playing in the T20 World Cup.
"Within myself I had the belief I would make the comeback in time. The good thing is I got hurt about one-and-a-half months before the World Cup.
"God is great - whatever bad had to happen has already happened."
With a small stature and desire to float the ball high, Poonam's style is not a replicable one in the women's game and Australia opening batswoman Alyssa Healy admitted that her side failed against the Indian.
"She bowled that first over pretty regulation as a leg-spinner and then slowed it up immensely after that, so we probably just didn't adapt to that well enough. We've planned for that. We just didn't probably play as smart as what we should have.
"Obviously we don't get leg-spinners coming out at 60kmph very often, and she's incredibly skilful at that. It was more the individual batters," Healy said.
Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur lauded Poonam for her efforts.
"She's someone who always bowls for the team, and it's not easy to play because she's a little slower in the air, but in T20 format she loves to bowl with a nice lead," Kaur said.
"When you have to hit her, you need to show some patience, and you need to have very good skill. I think that is a reason we kept her bowling, and we gave her when we needed a wicket, and she did a great job.
"You get one wicket then you can always turn the game for you, and that's what happened."...