The young and passionate slow left-arm bowler, Radha Yadav, gave one of the best catches of the 2023 Women’s Premier League in just her second match of the season and is among the top 3 highest T20 Internationals wicket-takers today. However, the road to success for Yadav wasn’t easy. Keep reading to know more about her journey from living in a 225-square-foot home to being one of the top international bowlers. Also, don’t forget to check out more such stories, cricket updates, and ipl recent news.
Yadav was born on 21st April 2000 in the financial capital of India, Mumbai. Yadav’s love affair with cricket started pretty early in her life, and Yadav thanks her coach, Mr. Praful Naik, for believing in her abilities when no one did and steering her passion in the right direction.
Her father, Mr. Omprakash Yadav, originally from the Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh, came to the city of dreams in hope of a better future, just like millions of other migrants. But soon got a reality check and opened a makeshift vegetable and milk stall just outside of his colony to make ends meet. Yadav lived in a 225-square-foot room with her family in a colony undergoing redevelopment under the SRA (Slum Redevelopment Area) scheme. Despite the struggle, her parents wanted Yadav to get the best education possible and tried enrolling her in an English-medium school in the neighboring suburb of Borivali. But they were denied the opportunity because Yadav’s mother never went to school.
Growing up, Yadav never had access to television or any medium to watch cricket. In one of her interviews, Yadav got candid about her childhood and told that she had never heard of any women cricketers, as people mostly talked about men’s cricket. She never had any female cricketer as a role model to look up to.
But things started to change for Yadav after India’s historic victory in the 2011 World Cup. It became a huge craze among the youth to pursue cricket as a career, and Yadav almost immediately knew her calling. She fell in love with the sport, its rules, and the crowd it brought. In one of her interviews, Yadav told how MS Dhoni made it look easy to bat, bowl, and wicket-keep all at the same time, which compelled her to experiment with different bowling styles until she mastered the art of slow orthodox deliveries.
Struggling to put food on his family’s plate, Yadav’s father, Mr. Omprakash, wanted her to pursue something more conventional. But her family’s financial condition wasn’t enough to break her passion for the sport, and when she didn’t have girls of her age by her side, she started playing cricket with boys in her colony’s compound.
At 12, Yadav was spotted by Mr. Praful Naik while playing softball or tennis-ball cricket in the same compound she played every day, and decided to train her. Mr. Naik convinced Yadav’s father to let her pursue cricket as her career. Yadav was 15 when she moved from her first school, Anandibai Damodar Kale Vidyalaya, to Our Lady of Remedy High School to get training under Mr. Naik. There, she swiftly made her transition from softball cricket to original leather-ball cricket.
At this time, Yadav’s family became her only force of strength that compelled her to train harder every day. His father tried to expand his small business by including items other than just milk and vegetables to help support his daughter’s dream. Her family sent whatever extra money they made for Yadav’s cricket equipment and training. Her eldest sister even sacrificed her own dream of becoming a cricketer, as their family could only afford training and equipment for one. Soon after her entry, she started competing for Our Lady of Remedy High School in inter-school cricket tournaments and won a lot of them.
She started her domestic cricket career with Mumbai and then moved on to Baroda. After a string of promising performances for the Baroda women, Geeta Gayakwad, the then chairperson of the Baroda Cricket Association women’s selection committee, gave her the opportunity to lead Baroda in Under-19 tournaments. Yadav proved Gayakwad’s theory right and led Baroda to win most of the tournaments. Baroda women were exceptional under Yadav’s guidance and went on to become the BCCI Under-19 inter-zonal champions in 2017.
Yadav’s international debut came during the 2018 T20I India W tour of South Africa alongside other newbies, including Jemimah Rodrigues, Taniya Bhatia, and Pooja Vastrakar. Even though Yadav was unsuccessful in taking any wickets for her team, she bowled exceptionally well and only gave 21 runs from her 3 overs of bowling. Later that same year, she became a part of the World Cup squad alongside her idol Mithali Raj in South Africa and ended the tournament as India’s joint-leading wicket-taker in the T20 format.
Yadav went on to play 67 T20 Internationals and became the second-highest wicket-taker of the format with a total of 68 wickets to her name. Her first and only ODI match was against South Africa women during the 2021 South Africa W tour of India.
In 2019, she signed her first BCCI (Board of Control Cricket for India) contract of Grade C, worth 10 Lakh, and gifted her family a 3 BHK apartment in Baroda. She also bought a small grocery shop for her father to establish his business. In 2020, she converted her Grade C contract into Grade B, worth three times more than the previous one.
This year, Yadav was sold to Delhi Capitals at a base price of 60 Lakh and has emerged as one of the leading women players in the 2023 Women’s Premier League. In her 9 WPL matches till now, she has knocked off 4 wickets and bowled with an average of 43.25 and an economy rate of over seven.
Yadav is a perfect example for millions of teens out there who dream of playing for India. She broke the generational cycle of poverty with her sheer hard work, determination, and skills.