Pooja Vastrakar: From Training At An All-Boys Facility To Making It Big At WPL

Pooja Vastrakar
The last leg of the inaugural Women’s Premiere League is underway with Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and UP emerging as the top three contenders to pick up the first-ever winning trophy. Among the several players who have earned the spotlight at the tournament, Madhya Pradesh’s all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar’s story remains inspirational in more ways than one.

Vastrakar, who was raised by a single father, went from pillar to post to earn her spot in the women’s national team and made her debut against South Africa in 2018. The medium-fast bowler is currently playing for the Mumbai Indians Squad at the ongoing WPL.

Pooja Vastrakar journey

Pooja Vastrakar began her training in an all-boys facility known as Gulmohar Cricket Academy, where she was the only girl under the direction of Mr Srivastava, who headed the academy. She began as a batter but transitioned to bowler due to her exceptional bowling skills, which were enhanced by her quickness on the pitch.

She used to play cricket with the boys in her Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh, locality. She eventually began visiting the stadium and practising net hitting, where coach Ashutosh Shrivastava saw her ability and started her official instruction. She began as a batter before switching to fast bowling when she joined the Madhya Pradesh squad. She was a member of India’s Green Ladies Squad when she was 15 years old. In 2016, Vastrakar twisted her knee while playing in a senior women’s domestic competition. This resulted in her having surgery for anterior cruciate ligament damage, putting her National call-up in peril. The 2018 Challenger Trophy was crucial in Vastrakar’s selection for India’s South Africa tour.

Vastrakar’s father is a retired Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) employee. She was just ten years old when her mother passed away. She is the youngest of seven siblings, the others being four sisters and two brothers.

She made her Women’s One Day International debut for India Women against South African Women on February 10, 2018. On February 13, 2018, she made her Women’s Twenty20 International debut for India Women against South Africa Women.

She was picked to India’s team for the 2018 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 event in the West Indies in October 2018. Unfortunately, she got injured during a warm-up match and was subsequently ruled out of the event. She was picked to India’s team for the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia in January 2020.

She was picked to India’s Test squad for a one-off match against the England women’s cricket team in May 2021. On June 16, 2021, Vastrakar made her Test debut for India against England. She was named to India’s squad for the 2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup, which will be held in New Zealand in January 2022. In the competition, she scored 156 runs at an average of 26.00 and got 10 wickets at an average of 18.30. She was nominated to India’s team for the cricket competition at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, in July 2022.

Vastrakar was purchased for 1.90 crores by Mumbai Indians at the February auction. Like Vastrakar, there are several female Indian cricketers creating their mark at the WPL, and it will be interesting to watch their sporting journeys going ahead.

Suggested reading- Priyanka Bala: From Representing Indian Railways To Playing At WPL 2023