Ravindra Jadeja and Poonam Yadav receive Arjuna Awards

India men’s allrounder Ravindra Jadeja and women’s wristspinner Poonam Yadav received the Arjuna Award, an honour bestowed by the Indian government to outstanding individual achievements in sports.

While Jadeja, currently on tour in the Caribbean, wasn’t there to receive the award in person, Poonam received hers from the president of the country on Thursday in New Delhi.

Jadeja, 30, and Poonam, 28, were among four cricketers – Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah being the others – recommended for the award by the BCCI in April. They were the only cricketers among the pool of 19 athletes to receive the award this year.

Jadeja occupies the fourth place on the ICC rankings for Test allrounders. He struck a half-century and picked up two wickets in India’s 318-run victory over West Indies in the North Sound Test and during the World Cup last month, he almost carried India to the final with a flamboyant 59-ball 79 against New Zealand.

“First of all, I would like to thank the government of India for giving me the Arjuna Award,” Jadeja said in a video posted by BCCI on Twitter. “I would also like to congratulate the other winners as they all have done well in their respective fields. I will always try to be at my best when I play for India and make my team and the country proud. Whenever I play for India, I will try my best to help them win matches.”

Poonam, meanwhile, is India’s leading wicket-taker in T20Is and is ranked No. 2 by the ICC. She was the world’s leading T20I bowler last year with 35 wickets in 25 innings at an average of 14.91 and strike rate of 15.4, including a career-best 4 for 9 in the final of the Asia Cup, which India lost off the last ball.

Earlier this year, she was promoted to BCCI’s Grade A contracts list, having been part of the Indian sides that finished runners-up in the 2017 ODI World Cup in England and crashed out in the semi-finals in the T20 World Cup in November last year.

Jadeja is the latest Arjuna Awardee among an elite list of former and current men’s cricketers, while Poonam is the fifth active India women’s cricketer – and 11th overall since 1976 – to win the award. Mithali Raj (2003), Jhulan Goswami (2010), Harmanpreet Kaur (2017) and Smriti Mandhana (2018) are the other current players in the list.

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