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Pooja Vastrakar is being criminally underused by Mumbai Indians

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Last updated on 02 Mar 2024 | 05:28 PM
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Pooja Vastrakar is being criminally underused by Mumbai Indians

The majority of teams in the competition would gobble up a bowler like Vastrakar into their XI before you could say “Pooja Vastrakar”, but not the Mumbai Indians (MI).

Imagine you are one of the quickest pacers ever to play for your nation. Imagine you are not only quick but can also generate enough seam movement on the ball. Imagine you have just clean-bowled Nat Sciver Brunt and Ellyse Perry in two consecutive Test matches on turning tracks. 

Imagine you are Pooja Vastrakar, and you have just bowled 12.3 overs after playing 11 games in your country’s biggest T20 league across two seasons. 

Even if your imagination is as fertile as Anne from Anne With an E, you’ll find it ridiculous because what's happening is rarely seen in cricket. 

Moreover, it’s not like Vastrakar has bowled badly in the league. An overall average of 20.5 combines with an economy of 6.6, and she strikes every 18.8 deliveries on an average. That means, on average, she’s giving her team one wicket in every four-over spell and conceding approximately 26 runs. 

The majority of teams in the competition would gobble up a bowler like Vastrakar into their XI before you could say “Pooja Vastrakar”, but not the Mumbai Indians (MI).

Today (March 2), Vastrakar showed why that would actually be true. She was brought in the ninth over with RCB already 41/3, and she struck on her second ball itself, removing Richa Ghosh, who fell in one of the most obvious traps.

Vastrakar pitched it up outside off with a fully packed inner circle on the off side. Richa hit that ball straight to Sajana Sajeevan, who took the catch after a small juggle at extra cover. After her successful plan, she went back to bowling on a good length, which RCB bowlers didn’t, and they suffered. Sophie Molineux, the new batter, played three consecutive dot balls. 

The next time Vastrakar bowled to her, the left-handed batter chopped it onto her stumps as Vastrakar angled the ball away from over the wicket but bowled it on a length, and the line was within the stumps. Considering the situation, it was a smart ball (RCB struggling at 71/4 after 12 overs), and her execution was top-notch. 

Even today, she couldn’t complete her quota of overs despite giving only 14 runs in her three overs and picking up two wickets. 

Also read - Pooja Vastrakar shows what she's made up of


MI are swamped with all-rounders, and three of their top 5 batters (Hayley Matthews, Nat Sciver Brunt, Amelia Kerr) can give them 12 overs regularly. Then they generally have an overseas pacer (Issy Wong/Shabnim Ismail) who bowls at the start and the death, combined with Indian pace bowling allrounder Amanjot Kaur. 

She hardly gets to bowl alongside spin all-rounder Sajana, who is yet to bowl in the tournament. Despite hitting a last-ball six for a famous victory in the season opener, Sajana has hardly got to bat at the death where her batting could have been used better by the Mumbai Indians. 

The pattern is clear. 

In an attempt to win, MI put their trust in their experienced overseas campaigners to do the job for them. It is expected in a competition where teams will always aim to win. 

However, this doesn’t mean that Vastrakar doesn’t have more to give to this team. Her bowling has improved, as her consistency on a length has shown. MI could easily use her as a middle-overs enforcer, but for that, they’ll have to stop over depending on their overseas picks and allow their Indians picks to show what they are capable of by using them more. They’ll have to allow them to fail and not judge them on their first few opportunities. 

It’s not like MI can’t do it. They have brilliantly used Saika Ishaque in different game phases, giving the Indian setup a very smart and competitive left-arm spinner. 

But as of now, even Pooja Vastrakar seems like that piece of fine cutlery in Indian middle-class households, which is just put in a beautiful showcase but never brought out to use. 

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