India beat Bangladesh by 18 runs thanks to the brilliant innings by 16-year-old Indian opener Shafali Verma in the last match of the ongoing International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia. Shefali smashed 39 runs in 17 balls with the help of four sixes and two fours, thus becoming the youngest player to win the Player of the Match award in T20 World Cup. At 16 years and 27 days, Verma, who is known for her hard-hitting batting technique and always-targeting-boundary prowess, guided India to a second match win in the tournament. ​She steered India to 142 for six. Later, with a good bowling attack, they restricted Bangladesh to 124 for 8 in their 20 overs to win the match by 18 runs. With this, India has two wins from two matches and also two highest totals of the tournament.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sixteen-year-old Indian opener Shafali Verma scored 39 runs in 17 balls in the ongoing ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia. She guided the team to an unbeaten second match win in the tournament.  
  • With this win, the Haryana-girl became the youngest player to win the player of the match award in T20 World Cup.
  • Shafali is also the youngest Indian cricketer to score a half-century in international cricket, surpassing Sachin Tendulkar’s 30-year-old record.

License to play fearless cricket

The Indians had a 17-run win over defending champion and four-time winner Australia in their opening clash. Verma knocked some brilliant shots there too. ​After the second match, an experienced pacer Shikha Pandey said to TOI that the Indian team management has given Shafali Verma the license to play fearless cricket. “We have not asked her (Verma) to change anything. She has been given free licence to play her fearless brand of cricket,” Pandey said.

“She is amazing. At 16, I hadn’t even started training to become a cricketer. I’m very pleased to have such young fearless players in our team. It’s amazing to see them doing what they did for us.” claimed Pandey, who took two wickets for 14 runs.

“There’s no baggage, that’s the biggest thing, and they express themselves so well in the team,” the 30-year-old said. “We thought we had a great score on the board to defend today because we believe in our bowling department. We knew it would be a tough target for them to reach,” she added.

Last year, Verma created history by becoming the youngest Indian cricketer to score a half-century in international cricket, surpassing Sachin Tendulkar’s 30-year-old record.

READ: Mithali Raj To Write Her Memoir

Who is Shafali Verma?

Shafali is now one of the youngest players in the Indian cricket team. She hails from Rohtak and started her career only five years ago. In a short span, she has already played three seasons for Haryana. She was strategically chosen for the team because she can hit the ball hard.

After her debut in T20Is replacing  Mithali Raj, when she announced her retirement,  a few people from the industry thought her to be just a young cricketer who would take time to blend in.  Verma first came into limelight when she performed ingeniously in 2018-19 during the Inter-State Women’s T20 tournament where she hammered 128 off 56 balls against Nagaland. She also impressed the selectors when she made 34 off 31 balls in the Women’s T20 Challenge in Jaipur earlier this year. She smashed a 34 as an opener against Smriti Mandhana-led Trailblazers.

She also earned a spot in the 25-member month-long NCA camp for the Senior Women’s side in Bengaluru in June  2019 and has now been fast-tracked to the national side.

Read More Stories By Ria Das

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