Fifteen-year-old Shafali Verma on Saturday created history by becoming the youngest Indian cricketer to score a half-century in international cricket. With a much-matured batting style, she hit 73 off 49 balls in the first T20 International against West Indies. After her debut in T20Is replacing the veteran Raj as she announced retirement,  a few personalities from the industry thought her as just a young cricketer who would take time to blend in. To their surprises, Shafali surpassed Sachin Tendulkar’s 30-year-old record with blazing knock as the Indian women’s team secured a convincing 84-run win on Saturday. Again, in the second T20I against West Indies, Shafali battled exceptionally and ensured a clinical run chase to help India take a 2-0 lead in the series on Monday. Shafali smashed an unbeaten 69 off just 35 deliveries. She followed the footstep of Deepti Sharma who helped score a marvelous 103 for 7 in their 20 overs.

The 15-year-old also became the second-youngest player to score a half-century in T20I format — men or women

Shafali was playing in only her fifth T20I. In an attacking mood from the beginning of the match, she blasted six fours and four sixes on way to her maiden fifty at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium. Then she scores second successive 50 on Monday. Backing her up, Smriti Mandhana claimed their second successive hundred-plus stand — unbeaten 143-run partnership —- for the opening wicket.

Key Takeaways:

  • 15-year-old Shafali Verma became the youngest Indian cricketer to score a half-century in international cricket, surpassing her idol Sachin Tendulkar’s 30-year-old record
  • Shafali, who is now being recognised for her hard-hitting prowess, helped India take a 2-0 lead in the series 
  • The teenager shared a record opening stand of 143 — India’s highest partnership in women’s T20Is — with Smriti Mandhana
  • The Haryana-girl played under Mithali for Team Velocity in the women’s T20 Challenge
  • Her favourite shot is stepping out to the spinners and hitting them for a straight six, and her favourite players in the Indian women’s team are Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur

In the five-match series, the third will be played on November 14 at the Providence Stadium at Guyana.

Coach WV Raman tweeted:

Breaking Tendulkar’s record

Shafali is just 15 years and 285 days old, but the Rohtak-born teenage cricketer outclassed legend Sachin Tendulkar, who had notched up his maiden Test fifty at 16 years and 214 days. Shafali has been inspired by Tendulkar’s final Ranji Trophy game at Lahli ground in Haryana. The rookie made a career in cricket after watching his brilliant performance and knock out sixes. “Jitne log Sachin sir ko andar dekhne ke liye khade the, utne hee bahar the (There were as many people outside the stadium as inside to get a glimpse of Tendulkar). Only then I realised how big a deal is to be a cricketer in India, especially when you are revered like Sachin sir,” Shafali had told PTI.

“I can never forget that day. My cricketing journey started from there” she had said after getting the news of her selection for the T20 series against South Africa this year.

Her rare talent was spotted during the Women’s T20 challenge earlier this year where she played under Mithali for Team Velocity. Raj, on the other hand, decided to quit T20 Internationals after a career spanning 89 matches.

Another brilliant record holder

The teenager shared a record opening stand of 143 — India’s highest partnership in women’s T20Is — with Smriti Mandhana to help the team take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.

READ: Mithali Raj To Write Her Memoir

Who is Shafali Verma?

Shafali is now one of the youngest players to be picked for Indian team. She hails from Rohtak and started off her career only five years ago. In a short span, she has already played three seasons for Haryana.

The hours she spends in training involves flipping tyres in her native. She was strategically chosen for the team as Shafali’s hard-hitting techniques is what the women’s T20 team needs right now.

She first came into limelight when she performed ingeniously in the 2018-19 Inter-State Women’s T20 tournament where she hammered 128 off 56 balls against Nagaland. She impressed the selectors when she made 34 off 31 balls in the Women’s T20 Challenge in Jaipur earlier this year against much experienced international players. She smashed a brisk 34 as an opener for Velocity against Smriti Mandhana-led Trailblazers.

“I was expecting this call-up to be honest. I had done well in domestic cricket and also in that big tournament in Jaipur. The recent camp at NCA also went well for me. So, yes I was hopeful,” The Haryana batter said who learnt the ropes at an academy in Rohtak.

“I was expecting this call-up to be honest. I had done well in domestic cricket and also in that big tournament in Jaipur. The recent camp at NCA also went well for me. So, yes I was hopeful,”

She has subsequently earned a spot in the 25-member month-long NCA camp for the Senior Women’s side in Benglauru in June and has now been fast-tracked to the national side.

What is her favourite shot?

“Stepping out to the spinners and hitting them for a straight six,” she said.

Who are her favourite players in the Indian women’s team?

Shafali says: “Mithali di (Mithali Raj) and Harman di (Harmanpreet Kaur).

Feature Image Credit: The Hans India

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