Pooja Vastrakar, born on 25th September 1999 in Bilaspur, Madhya Pradesh, has emerged as one of the promising talents in the Indian women's cricket team. An all-rounder by profession, Vastrakar is known for her right-arm medium-fast bowling and her prowess as a right-handed batter. Her journey in international cricket began in 2018, and since then, she has been a consistent performer for the Indian side in various formats of the game.
Growing up in Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh, Vastrakar's initial tryst with cricket was playing with boys in her neighbourhood. Her passion for the sport led her to the stadium where she practised net batting. It was here that coach Ashutosh Shrivastava spotted her innate talent and initiated her formal training in the sport. Initially starting off as a batter, her skills evolved, and she began fast bowling when she joined the Madhya Pradesh team. By the age of 15, she had already made her mark, becoming a part of the India Green Women Squad.
However, her journey was not without challenges. In 2016, during a senior women's domestic match, Vastrakar suffered a knee injury, leading to an anterior cruciate ligament tear. This injury posed a significant threat to her budding cricket career, putting her national call-up in jeopardy. But, showcasing resilience and determination, she made a strong comeback. The Challenger Trophy in 2018 was a turning point in her career, playing a crucial role in her selection for India's tour of South Africa.
Vastrakar's personal life has also been marked by challenges. Her father is a retired employee of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), and she lost her mother when she was just ten years old. Being the youngest among seven siblings, her journey in cricket is a testament to her determination and the support of her family.
Pooja Vastrakar's ascent in domestic cricket is a tale of sheer determination and hard work. Her initial days in Shahdol, playing with boys, laid the foundation for her cricketing journey. As she began her formal training under coach Ashutosh Shrivastava, her talent became evident. She started as a batter, but her versatility soon shone through when she began fast bowling for the Madhya Pradesh team.
Her performances at the state level didn't go unnoticed. By the age of 15, she was already a part of the prestigious India Green Women Squad. This was a significant milestone, marking her as one of the promising talents in the country. However, the road was not always smooth. In 2016, during a senior women's domestic match, she faced a significant setback.
An injury led to an anterior cruciate ligament tear, posing a threat to her cricketing aspirations. But Vastrakar, with her never-give-up attitude, made a commendable comeback. Her performance in the Challenger Trophy in 2018 was pivotal, not only cementing her place in the domestic circuit but also opening doors for her international debut.
Pooja Vastrakar's international journey began in 2018. On February 10, 2018, she played her first Women's One Day International (WODI) match for India against South Africa. Shortly after, she marked her entry into the T20 format, making her Women's Twenty20 International (WT20I) debut against South Africa on 13th February 2018.
Since her debut, Vastrakar has been a consistent performer for the Indian side. Her all-round abilities, both as a batter and a bowler, have made her a valuable asset to the team. In the ODI format, she has showcased her batting prowess with several notable performances, and in T20Is, her ability to bowl at crucial junctures has often turned the game in India's favour.
Her international journey also saw challenges. In October 2018, she was named in India's squad for the 2018 ICC Women's World Twenty20 tournament in the West Indies. However, an injury during a warm-up match ruled her out of the tournament. But, true to her nature, Vastrakar bounced back. She was selected to represent India in the 2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup held in Australia. Her exceptional performance during the tournament further cemented her position in the team.
Throughout her cricketing journey, Pooja Vastrakar has achieved several milestones:
Test Debut: Vastrakar made her Test debut on 16th June 2021 against England. This marked her entry into the longest format of the game, showcasing her versatility across different formats.
2022 Women's Cricket World Cup: She was selected to represent India in the 2022 Women's Cricket World Cup held in New Zealand in January of that year. Her performance during the tournament was impressive - she scored 156 runs with an average of 26.00 and took 10 wickets with an average of 18.30.Her all-round performance was crucial for the team throughout the tournament.
2022 Commonwealth Games: In July 2022, Vastrakar was named in India's team for the cricket tournament at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. Her contribution played a significant role in the team's journey in the games.
Consistent Performer: Vastrakar's statistics speak volumes about her consistency. In ODIs, she has scored runs at an average of over 23, with a top score of 67. In T20Is, she has maintained a batting average of 16.00. As a bowler, she has taken wickets at an average of 23.38 in T20Is and 37.55 in ODIs, showcasing her ability to contribute in both batting and bowling.
Resilience: One of Vastrakar's most notable achievements is her ability to bounce back from setbacks. Whether it was her injury during the 2018 ICC Women's World Twenty20 or her anterior cruciate ligament tear in 2016, she has always returned stronger, showcasing her mental strength and dedication to the sport.
Pooja Vastrakar, as of now, stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration in the Indian women's cricket team. With her consistent performances, she has cemented her place as a reliable all-rounder. Her ability to adapt to different formats of the game, be it Test, ODI, or T20, showcases her versatility and commitment to the sport.
In recent times, Vastrakar has been a part of significant tournaments and series. Her participation in the 2022 Women's Cricket World Cup and the 2022 Commonwealth Games highlights her importance in the team. Not just as a player, but her presence in the dressing room brings a blend of youthfulness and experience, making her an essential asset for the Indian side.
Her current form in both batting and bowling has been commendable. With the ball, she has been delivering crucial breakthroughs, and with the bat, she's been chipping in with valuable runs. As the cricketing world evolves and the competition gets tougher, Vastrakar's role in the Indian team becomes even more vital. Her adaptability, combined with her skills, makes her one of the players to watch out for in upcoming tournaments.
Pooja Vastrakar's journey in cricket is nothing short of inspirational. From playing in the lanes of Shahdol to representing India on the global stage, her story is a testament to what passion, dedication, and hard work can achieve. While she is still in the prime of her career, the legacy she is building is evident.
Her resilience, especially in the face of injuries and setbacks, sets her apart. Young cricketers can look up to her journey to understand that challenges are a part of growth and that with determination, any obstacle can be overcome.
Vastrakar's legacy is not just about her achievements on the field but also her character off it. Her commitment to the sport, her team spirit, and her never-give-up attitude are attributes that will be remembered for years to come. As she continues to play and achieve more, she is not just building a legacy for herself but also contributing significantly to the legacy of Indian women's cricket.
When did Pooja Vastrakar make her international debut for India?
Pooja Vastrakar made her Women's One Day International debut for India against South Africa on 10th February 2018.
What is Pooja Vastrakar's role in the cricket team?
Pooja Vastrakar is an all-rounder, known for her right-arm medium-fast bowling and right-handed batting.
Has Pooja Vastrakar played in any World Cup tournaments?
Yes, Pooja Vastrakar was a part of the Indian squad for the 2018 ICC Women's World Twenty20, the 2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup, and the 2022 Women's Cricket World Cup.
Where did Pooja Vastrakar begin her cricketing journey?
Pooja Vastrakar began playing cricket in Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh, initially playing with boys in her neighbourhood.
What significant injury did Pooja Vastrakar face in her early career?
In 2016, Pooja Vastrakar suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear during a senior women's domestic match.