Shafali Verma first picked up the bat when she was 8 and she never looked back. On September 24, 2019, at the age of 15, she made her international debut becoming the youngest woman to play for India in a T20 international match.
Shafali Verma, who led the Indian Women’s Under-19 Team to win ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup 2023, represents India in all three formats of the game presently. She became the youngest player in T20 International history to attain 1000 runs on October 8, 2022.
Shafali Verma: Journey
For the unversed, one interesting fact about Shafali Verma’s cricketing journey dates back to her childhood when she once disguised herself as a boy to play in an all-boys cricket championship. Verma, who took her brother’s position in the team, outscored the boys and won the tournament’s player of the year title.
Throughout the first three years of her cricket career, she was trained by her father, Sanjeev Verma. It was her father who introduced her to the local fields for practice and gave her 5 rupees for each six she struck.
Shafali’s father, too, aspired to be a cricketer at an early age but was unable to do so owing to a lack of opportunity and support.
While the boys originally hesitated to play cricket with Shefali, fearing she might get hurt, she decided to chop her hair and began playing matches dressed as a boy until the players realised her potential.
Shafali was nine when she went to witness Sachin Tendulkar play his final Ranji Trophy match with her father in 2013. The experience motivated the young girl to such an extent that she vowed to work hard to earn her spot in the Indian cricket team.
She joined the Ram Narayan Cricket Club in Rohtak in 2016 and began training with the female cricketers, but her coach chose to elevate her to the Elite Group, where she began working with the U-19, U-23, and Ranji Trophy players. In 2018, she was made the captain of the Haryana Women’s Under-19 Cricket team. Verma was 15 when she received her first call-up to India’s Women’s Twenty20 International (WT201) team for their series against South Africa, citing her ferocious hitting and remarkable talents.
She broke a 30-year-old record set by her idol Sachin Tendulkar just a few weeks after making her debut. She became India’s youngest player to hit a fifty when she scored 73 runs off 49 balls versus West Indies in a T20 competition.
Spotlight at the WPL
Verma became an integral part of the Delhi Capitals team after the auction fetched her a two-crore signing amount. She has since been displaying her power with the bat by hitting not just one but several half-centuries throughout the tournament.
Her 76 runs off 28 balls in the match against Gujarat Giants proved not just her hitting ability but her world-class skill of sustaining in the field in a high pressured game. Her contribution to the WPL is grabbing headlines, one match at a time and it will be interesting to watch her perform in the first-ever WPL final on March 26.
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