Quick-Learner Shafali Verma Aims to Become the Complete Package
The feisty opener wants to utilize her maiden Test and ODI call-ups to enhance her decision-making capabilities.
Rarely does a player have as prolific an impact on the cricketing scene as Shafali Verma has had. She is a daredevil with the bat in hand, holding a penchant for pyrotechnics that leave you glued to the edge of your seat. Having set the T20 stage on fire, the 17-year-old prodigy recently received her maiden Test and ODI call-ups for the England tour. She wants to utilize the upcoming opportunities to enhance her decision-making capabilities around playing and leaving deliveries as well as maximising the length of her innings.
"[India] Women are getting to play their first Test in seven years. I have been given the chance [to be part of the Test squad], so my aim would be to learn from that Test match as much as I can about choosing the right balls to play, staying on in the middle as long as possible," Verma told ESPNcricinfo. "All formats - ODIs, T20Is, and Tests - have different experiences and lessons to offer, so I would be looking forward to learning from both the ODI and Test formats."
Verma has eaten records for breakfast in her short international career so far. She is not only the youngest Indian woman to feature in T20I cricket but also the youngest Indian to strike an international half-century. Having made her debut in September 2019, Verma has carved a niche for herself as one of the most fearless and flamboyant strikers going around in the international arena. The supremely talented opener always got India off to a flier in the last year’s T20 WC as her tally of 163 runs at the top of the order was pivotal to India's dash to the finals.
Her inclusion in the Test and ODI squads comes at a momentous juncture. India are due to play their first Test since 2014, as part of a multi-format, seven-match assignment against hosts England starting 16 June. With the rescheduled ODI WC slated for March-April next year in New Zealand, her range-hitting could prove a shot in the arm in the run-scoring capabilities of India’s 50-over unit, an obvious loophole they would want to plug in the aftermath of the 4-1 ODI series loss to South Africa at home in March.
Verma is quietly confident about making the cut in the playing XI for the one-off Test or the three-match ODI series, and contributing to the team’s cause. "Whenever I get a chance [call-up] like this, I look out for opportunities to play matches so that I am able to prove myself and my style of play and go on to build a good career for myself," Verma said. "Everyone feels good after getting their maiden call-ups, and I felt good, too. My goal [in the upcoming tour of England] would be to make sure I score well for my team." she asserted.
In the annual player retainership announced by the BCCI, Verma levelled up from Grade C to B, which is worth payment of INR 30 lacs.
The India men and women's cricket teams are likely to travel together to England on a charter flight on 2 June for their respective series.
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