From Rohtak to conquer England, Shafali Verma can’t wait to leave

For nearly a month, the daily ritual of teenage batting sensation Shafali Verma was to wake up at dawn and strike the leather ball hanging in her living room with the bat at Rohtak’s Sunaar Gully. Lifting dumbbells would follow the strenuous two hour stint. It was a throwback to her preteen days, long before she became a household name, a phase of her life spent playing tennis ball cricket on the dusty alleys near her home, with older boys. what.

It’s not an ideal preparation for the world No.1 T20I female player, who landed a contract for the inaugural edition of The Hundred, when Birmingham Phoenix acquired the services of the 17-year-old in as a replacement for New Zealand thresher Sophie Devine. She thus became only the fifth Indian cricketer woman, after captain Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues and Deepti Sharma, to enter the tournament’s fold. She is also set to make her Big Bash Women’s League debut with double champions Sydney Sixers later this year.

Ahead of the Hundreds launch on July 21, Shafali and her teammates will travel to England next month for a bilateral series. “With so much cricket scheduled 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 lockdown), it’s the best I could have done, ”she said over the phone to The Indian Express.

For a long time, the women’s game was not known for causing heavy hitters, but Shafali, with her lightning-fast hitting play and ability to hit six at will, is changing perceptions. In 22 T20I since her debut, she has scored 617 points, including three half centuries at a mind-blowing hitting rate of a hue of less than 150. Without her meteoric debut as the T20 World Cup opener of the last year in Australia, India would not have reached the final. Her Down Under exploits have made everyone from Nasser Hussain to Ian Bishop call her the “next big thing” in women’s cricket.

Asked about her thoughts on The Hundred, Shafali gave a simple and concrete answer. “Koi tension nahi hain. Bus acha perform karna hain aur desh aur papa ka naam roshan karna hain (There is no tension. I just want to play to the best of my ability and make my country and my father proud), ”she said.

Exuberant, effervescent

These comments might appear to be repeated. But it does offer a glimpse into the mindset of one of the most talented hitters in women’s cricket. This also characterizes his exuberance and childlike innocence. Despite an incredible start in international cricket, she is not weighed down by expectations.

In many ways, she’s starring at a tournament like The Hundred, which will be her second major international assignment since last year’s T20 World Cup. Pundits, players and fans alike will be firmly fixed on Shafali when she finally shows up for Birmingham Phoenix. But that doesn’t seem to bother her. For the teenager, it’s like any other tournament.

“At a young age and on the big stage that is the World Cup, she did well. This is an indication of his talent and temperament. She will fix things as they go as she will only get better. You shouldn’t try to tell her that this is how she should go, this is the path she should take or this is how she should mold herself. Let her continue to play cricket, ”former coach WV Raman told reporters following India’s loss to Australia in the T20 World Cup final.

Another testament to Shafali’s flawless temperament is the way she takes on the best bowlers. She smoked four borders against Australian point guard Megan Schutt, (then the No. 1 ranked T20I player) in the first match of the T20 World Cup. Two months ago, at another T20I meeting against South Africa in Lucknow, she hit three limits and a six against Shabnim Ismail, the current No. 2 ranked bowler in the T20I. In doing so, she landed a 50 of 26 balls, which paved the way for a comfortable victory for India.

His blitzkrieg prompted Protea wicket keeper Sinalo Jafta to taunt, “First, you’ve taken the word out of my mind: fearlessly. T20 cricket is all about expressing herself and the way she expresses herself I have to congratulate her. She’s just 100% fearless. That’s the only word, ”Jafta told Star Sports.

The South Africa streak has been particularly productive for Shafali, in which she scored 60, 47 and 23. Whether the streak of good scoring came after a year of inactivity on the international stage would have pleased her. The teenager, however, used her free time to work on her fitness and polish some of the rough edges of her game.

“I used this time to work on my weight training. Apna body strength pe dhyan diya. I also tried to refine my game and be more judicious in the selection of the shots, in terms of choosing the deliveries that I think I should hit, ”she explains.

Imperturbable, serene

In the run-up to this year’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the Haryana Cricket Association allowed him to train with the men’s team. “She hardly had any problems against Mohit Sharma and Ashish Hooda, who were playing above 135 km / h,” said a member of the Haryana men’s team.

This exercise was not new to Shafali. At age 14, she was invited to take on the stimulators of Team Haryana Ranji at Shri Ram Narain Cricket Academy in Rohtak under the watchful eyes of coach Ashwani Kumar. But facing Mohit Sharma after such a long time away from the game would go a long way in sharpening his skills.

Amid intense net sessions and frantic international matches, Shafali was keen to balance her studies with her athletic career. “I know the importance of academics. Despite my busy schedule, my dad wants me to finish my studies. Before the South Africa series in March, I was preparing for the Class X board exams. However, it was canceled, ”she says.

Father Sanjeev enrolled her in the Shiv Nadar School in Noida for upper secondary education. “But she will be missing at least the first three months because she will be leaving for England next month,” said Sanjeev.

But when it comes to his cricket, the England series and The Hundred would be very informative. It would be a decisive chapter in Shafali’s career. The challenge will be to maintain its daring and bindaas attitude. If Shafali does this, she will leave the world in awe of her talents.

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