With 96 in his debut, Shafali Verma embarks on the cricket test
On his Test debut, Shafali Verma lit up Bristol. A 152-ball 96, with 13 fours and two sixes, bolstered her reputation as a batting marauder after the England women declared their first inning of 396/9 in the single test.
Although he is a newcomer to this level, Shafali’s hit-and-run play had been the talk of the game as we approached this game. Thanks to fearless cricket, the 17-year-old has lived up to her reputation.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how Shafali plays. She’s a match winner. I just hope they don’t tinker with her game. She’s a natural player. Normally I don’t like to compare players from cricket men and women, but she’s someone in the mold (Virender) Sehwag, ”former India Women captain Diana Edulji told the newspaper on the eve of the test.
Edulji was talking about the positive impact Shafali’s proactive stick creates. Indian women were faced with a pretty big score. The impact of the teenager allowed tourists to put pressure on England.
Indian women performed a test after a seven-year hiatus. No wonder, then, that this is Shafali’s first five-day game, despite having already played 22 WT20Is. His hit rate of over 148 in the shortest format spoke volumes about his hitting skills. But Test cricket was a different ball game, a test of his technique and his temper in English conditions. Shafali passed with flying colors.
“Like any player who came out in the 90s, I was also disappointed. But next time, I won’t miss the hundred. When I play international cricket I never think about how old I am, I only think about how I can contribute to the team, ”Shafali said at the after-day press conference.
Shafali’s father, Sanjeev, didn’t care that his daughter was missing her hundred. “I was not tense. Before the test, when I spoke to Shafali, I told her that she had to play for the country. I’m glad she played well. I’m not disappointed that it hasn’t marked a century, ”Sanjeev told The Indian Express.
She went to England a little undercooked. “With so much cricket planned over the next three months, I would have liked to train at my coach Ashwani sir’s academy. I miss the nets session. But given the current situation (pandemic and containment), it’s the best I could have done, ”Shafali said during an interaction with this newspaper last month.
She was forced to improvise her training. In his living room at Rohtak’s Sunaar Gully, Shafali’s stick training was limited to hitting a suspended leather ball before doing physical conditioning. Her white ball cricket exploits have already helped her land a contract for the inaugural edition of The Hundred with Birmingham Phoenix. His excellent start to red ball cricket will add an extra dimension to his game.
In his rounds on Thursday, Shahafi was wise beyond his years. She was wary at first, respecting the occasion and England’s women’s bowling alley. It was only after tea that she began to play extravagant plans. The coolness of Smriti Mandhana (78) on the other end helped. Together, the two forerunners had 167 points before Shahafi was sacked.
“Me and Smriti would partner up and we supported each other and decided to play our natural game. We had a good laugh during the partnership. We had decided to hit some free balls, but there were a few full shots that we missed, so we laughed, ”Shafali said.
Aggression comes naturally to young people. In fact, Shahafi learned to be aggressive while playing cricket. “I told Shafali, it’s very simple. If you run over a famous bowler, you’ll make a name for yourself, ”his dad told this newspaper last year. Shahafi delights in attacking the opposition. “Growing up, my father would tell me and my brother that whoever hits more than six will get Rs 10 or 15,” she said at the end of the play.
It wasn’t always easy. Far from there. Five years ago, Sanjeev lost his life savings of Rs 7.5 lakh due to a crook. With only Rs 280 in his wallet, the future of Shahafi cricket seemed uncertain. But as her father said today: “She was destined to be a cricketer. “