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EXCLUSIVE: Shafali is god-gifted and a big asset for the team, says coach

With age on her side she will be a big asset for Indian women’s cricket, believes her coach.

EXCLUSIVE: Shafali is god-gifted and a big asset for the team, says coach
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By

Suhrid Barua

Published: 3 March 2020 7:40 AM GMT

It won’t be an exaggeration by any stretch of imagination to suggest that she is a prodigy because it is seldom that such special talents come to the fore, especially in women’s international cricket.

Sixteen-year-old Shafali Verma has hogged the cricketing limelight with her sensational batting firepower that has left Indian cricket buffs craving for ‘Dil Maange More’. The prodigiously talented Rohtak girl has been one of the prime reasons why the Indian women’s cricket team cleared the group stage hurdle in cruise mode, getting the better of fancied sides like hosts and reigning champions Australia, New Zealand as well as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to maintain a clean slate in their march to the semifinals.

The right-handed Indian batswoman who has studied at two schools - St. Paul School and Mandeep Public School - may appear diminutive, but packs a ‘big’ punch when it comes to sending the opposition bowlers on the leather hunt. And the greatest attribute about Shafali is her fearless streak – she is ready to go after the opposition bowling from ball one and does not believe in the school of thought of getting her eye in and then playing her shots.

The bubbling Haryana lass kicked off her 2020 ICC T20 World Cup campaign with a breezy 15-ball 29 against Australia, which was surely a factor in her team pulling off a 17-run win. The youngster struck a whirlwind 39 against Bangladesh before going on to clobber a sizzling 46 against New Zealand and wrapped up her team’s league campaign in style, slamming 47 against Sri Lanka and is now India’s top run-getter at the World Cup with 161 runs at an average of 40.25.

Shafali Verma (Image: Twitter) Shafali Verma is India’s top run-getter at the World Cup with 161 runs at an average of 40.25. (Image: Twitter)

Her penchant for hitting boundaries is well known now – she has cracked 18 fours and 9 sixes in four innings so far. Interestingly, Shafali’s strike rate of 161.00 is the only second best strike rate in the tournament behind West Indies’ Anisa Mohammed, who has a strike rate of 166.66 – the Indian opener is the third highest run-scorer of the ongoing event behind the English duo of Natalie Sciver and Heather Knight, who have accumulated 202 and 193 runs respectively.

The international T20 debut of Shafali came around only five months back when she was picked for the six-match T20 home series against South Africa – in the first tie played at Surat, the youngster was out for a duck but made amends scoring a strokeful 46 in the 4th game after the 2nd and 3rd games were abandoned due to rain.

Shafali earned her first foreign trip travelling with the national team for the tour of West Indies in November, where she really turned it on in the 1st T20 tie clobbering an exhilarating 73 and going on to belt an unbeaten 69 in the 2nd T20 tie, paving the way for her team’s ten-wicket win.

At the Australia Tri-Nation Women’s T20 Tournament – the final tourney before the Women’s T20 World Cup, Shafali again underlined her value scoring a swashbuckling 49 in her team’s seven-wicket win over Australia. The youngster has played 18 T20 internationals so far and has managed 35-plus scores on seven occasions, which is a good augury given that she is just 16 and has so many exciting cricketing years ahead of her.

Shafali Verma (Image: Cricket.au) The youngster has played 18 T20 internationals so far and has managed 35-plus scores on seven occasions. (Image: Cricket.au)

The Rohtak-based Shri Ram Narain Cricket Academy is where Shafali first got an opportunity to hone her cricketing skills.

Shafali joined our academy in 2016 when she was around 12 – since she was quite small we put her in a group that comprise kids aged between 12 and 13 and within 15-20 days of joining the academy, she made swift progress and we decided to put her in the group comprising senior players like under-19, under-21 and above. She looked at ease facing the senior bowlers. She was selected for Haryana’s U 19 team in 2016, when she was just thirteen,” says Shafali’s coach and former Haryana Ranji cricketer Ashwani Kumar.

Going forward, Shafali was tasked with facing the likes of senior Haryana Ranji bowlers like Ashish Hooda and Aman Kumar among others. “Shafali was unperturbed by the prospect of facing these senior men bowlers and was confidently negotiating them, in fact, hitting them like a seasoned campaigner,” gushes Kuma.

Kumar, who played for the Haryana Ranji Trophy between 1982 and 1989 in 40 matches, believes Shafali has something special. “I would say she is god-gifted and along with that she picked on the learnings from her stint at the academy,” says her coach whose student is also remembered for the 128-ball 156 she scored for Haryana against Nagaland in the Indian Senior T20 competition, which remains the third highest score in women’s domestic T20.

It’s only natural to see a coach like Ashwani Kumar being elated with the T20 Women’s World Cup performance of Shafali, but the Ram Narain Cricket Academy chief coach wants the girl to keep raising the bar. “For someone who is just 16 the way she smacks the ball is wonderful to see. I know people talk about her running between the wickets but you have to also understand she is really a teenager. Shafali will have to work on getting the ones and twos as well as her fielding – with age on her side she will be a big asset for Indian women’s cricket,” says Kumar not hiding one bit his excitement of training such an exciting talent.

It won’t be an exaggeration by any stretch of imagination to suggest that she is a prodigy because it is seldom that such special talents come to the fore, especially in women’s international cricket.

Sixteen-year-old Shafali Verma has hogged the cricketing limelight with her sensational batting firepower that has left Indian cricket buffs craving for ‘Dil Maange More’. The prodigiously talented Rohtak girl has been one of the prime reasons why the Indian women’s cricket team cleared the group stage hurdle in cruise mode, getting the better of fancied sides like hosts and reigning champions Australia, New Zealand as well as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to maintain a clean slate in their march to the semifinals.

The right-handed Indian batswoman who has studied at two schools - St. Paul School and Mandeep Public School - may appear diminutive, but packs a ‘big’ punch when it comes to sending the opposition bowlers on the leather hunt. And the greatest attribute about Shafali is her fearless streak – she is ready to go after the opposition bowling from ball one and does not believe in the school of thought of getting her eye in and then playing her shots.

The bubbling Haryana lass kicked off her 2020 ICC T20 World Cup campaign with a breezy 15-ball 29 against Australia, which was surely a factor in her team pulling off a 17-run win. The youngster struck a whirlwind 39 against Bangladesh before going on to clobber a sizzling 46 against New Zealand and wrapped up her team’s league campaign in style, slamming 47 against Sri Lanka and is now India’s top run-getter at the World Cup with 161 runs at an average of 40.25.

Shafali Verma (Image: Twitter) Shafali Verma is India’s top run-getter at the World Cup with 161 runs at an average of 40.25. (Image: Twitter)

Her penchant for hitting boundaries is well known now – she has cracked 18 fours and 9 sixes in four innings so far. Interestingly, Shafali’s strike rate of 161.00 is the only second best strike rate in the tournament behind West Indies’ Anisa Mohammed, who has a strike rate of 166.66 – the Indian opener is the third highest run-scorer of the ongoing event behind the English duo of Natalie Sciver and Heather Knight, who have accumulated 202 and 193 runs respectively.

The international T20 debut of Shafali came around only five months back when she was picked for the six-match T20 home series against South Africa – in the first tie played at Surat, the youngster was out for a duck but made amends scoring a strokeful 46 in the 4th game after the 2nd and 3rd games were abandoned due to rain.

Shafali earned her first foreign trip travelling with the national team for the tour of West Indies in November, where she really turned it on in the 1st T20 tie clobbering an exhilarating 73 and going on to belt an unbeaten 69 in the 2nd T20 tie, paving the way for her team’s ten-wicket win.

At the Australia Tri-Nation Women’s T20 Tournament – the final tourney before the Women’s T20 World Cup, Shafali again underlined her value scoring a swashbuckling 49 in her team’s seven-wicket win over Australia. The youngster has played 18 T20 internationals so far and has managed 35-plus scores on seven occasions, which is a good augury given that she is just 16 and has so many exciting cricketing years ahead of her.

Shafali Verma (Image: Cricket.au) The youngster has played 18 T20 internationals so far and has managed 35-plus scores on seven occasions. (Image: Cricket.au)

The Rohtak-based Shri Ram Narain Cricket Academy is where Shafali first got an opportunity to hone her cricketing skills.

Shafali joined our academy in 2016 when she was around 12 – since she was quite small we put her in a group that comprise kids aged between 12 and 13 and within 15-20 days of joining the academy, she made swift progress and we decided to put her in the group comprising senior players like under-19, under-21 and above. She looked at ease facing the senior bowlers. She was selected for Haryana’s U 19 team in 2016, when she was just thirteen,” says Shafali’s coach and former Haryana Ranji cricketer Ashwani Kumar.

Going forward, Shafali was tasked with facing the likes of senior Haryana Ranji bowlers like Ashish Hooda and Aman Kumar among others. “Shafali was unperturbed by the prospect of facing these senior men bowlers and was confidently negotiating them, in fact, hitting them like a seasoned campaigner,” gushes Kuma.

Kumar, who played for the Haryana Ranji Trophy between 1982 and 1989 in 40 matches, believes Shafali has something special. “I would say she is god-gifted and along with that she picked on the learnings from her stint at the academy,” says her coach whose student is also remembered for the 128-ball 156 she scored for Haryana against Nagaland in the Indian Senior T20 competition, which remains the third highest score in women’s domestic T20.

It’s only natural to see a coach like Ashwani Kumar being elated with the T20 Women’s World Cup performance of Shafali, but the Ram Narain Cricket Academy chief coach wants the girl to keep raising the bar. “For someone who is just 16 the way she smacks the ball is wonderful to see. I know people talk about her running between the wickets but you have to also understand she is really a teenager. Shafali will have to work on getting the ones and twos as well as her fielding – with age on her side she will be a big asset for Indian women’s cricket,” says Kumar not hiding one bit his excitement of training such an exciting talent.

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