On her Test debut, Shafali Verma lit up Bristol. A 152-ball 96, with 13 fours and two sixes, enhanced her reputation as a batting marauder after England Women declared their first innings on 396/9 in the one-off Test.
Despite being a newcomer at this level, Shafali’s stroke-play had been widely talked about, coming into this game. Through fearless cricket, the 17-year-old lived up to her reputation.
“I am really looking forward to how Shafali plays. She is a match-winner. I only hope they don’t tinker with her game. She is a natural player. I don’t normally like comparing men and women cricketers, but she is someone in the (Virender) Sehwag mould,” former India Women captain Diana Edulji told this paper on the eve of the Test.
Edulji was talking about the positive impact that Shafali’s proactive batting creates. India Women were up against a pretty big score. The teenager’s impact-batting allowed the tourists to put England Women under pressure.
India Women have been playing a Test after a gap of seven years. Little wonder then that this was Shafali’s maiden five-day fixture, although she has already played 22 WT20Is. Her 148-plus strike-rate in the shortest format spoke volumes for her hitting talent. But Test cricket was a different ball game, a test of her technique and temperament in English conditions. Shafali passed with flying colours.
INDW vs ENGWIndia’s Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma during the drink’s break. (Reuters)
“Like any player who gets out in 90s, I was also disappointed. But next time I will not miss the hundred. When playing international cricket, I never think how old I am, I only think how I can contribute to the team,” Shafali said at the post-day press conference.
Shafali’s father Sanjeev didn’t mind her daughter missing the hundred. “I wasn’t tense. Ahead of the Test, when I spoke to Shafali, I told her that she has to play for the country. I am happy that she played well. I am not disappointed that she didn’t score a century,” Sanjeev told The Indian Express.
She went to England a little undercooked. “With so much cricket scheduled over the next three months, I would have liked to practice at my coach Ashwani sir’s academy. I miss the nets session. But given the current situation (pandemic and lockdown), this is the best that I could have done,” Shafali had said during an interaction with this paper last month.
new source: indian express