ICC Women’s World T20: Teenaged Radha Yadav finally reaping fruits of hard work
Watching Radha Yadav claim her best bowling figures (4-0-25-3) and set up India’s win over Ireland in the ongoing T20 women’s World Cup, her coach Prafull Naik could not have been more proud. Following that up with an extremely creditable haul of 2/13, including the scalp of Australia captain Meg Lanning and a stunning catch running backwards off her own bowling to dismiss Delissa Kimmince, was testimony to the 18-year-old’s talent.
Prafull is happy to see their hard work and intent finally coming to fruition. He has more than one reason to be proud. Not only had he spotted the left-arm spinner when she was 12, Prafull also realised at the same time that a daughter of a vegetable vendor in Kandivali, Mumbai can’t flourish without financial support.
“I remember Radha was playing with the boys near a building when she was 12. I was amazed by her cricket skills. The same evening I went to meet her father Omprakash to ask him what plans he had for her. Due to lack of funds, he conveyed his helplessness. On that day I took Radha and her elder sister under my wings,” said the 59-year-old coach who moved to Baroda three years ago from Mumbai to pursue a coaching assignment.
Radha also shifted base and started playing for Baroda just to be around her coach and mentor. However, her sister had to quit cricket as she was required to stay back at their Kandivali home to help out her parents.
“She had done well for Baroda in the last three seasons, scoring lots of runs and taking many wickets in U-19, U-23 and the senior level. She was then selected for India A. I knew her India debut was very near but with brilliant spinners like Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gaekwad and Poonam Yadav around, it wasn’t going to be easy maintaining a regular berth in the team. India coach Ramesh Powar however has shown confidence in her,” said Prafull about Radha who made her T20 debut against South Africa earlier this year.
Radha trains under Prafull who is currently with the academy of former India all-rounder Mohinder Amarnath in Baroda. Her formative years however were spent at the Shiv Seva ground in Mumbai where Punam Raut and Rohit Sharma too had started out.
So far, Radha has been given preference over seasoned left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht in the World Cup. Boosted by a couple of tons in domestic cricket, the 18-year-old is also confident about using the long handle late in the order. A student of class 12, Radha was offered a job by Indian Railways when she was 16, but she turned it down as all she wanted to focus on cricket.
“Women’s cricket took off in India after the 2017 World Cup. Reaching the semi-final now, India has done half the job. They have the potential of winning the tournament with good all-rounders. I’m hoping Radha repeats her performance,” said Prafull.