Shafali Verma, Indian Cricket’s Youngest World Number One
Shafali Verma is the number 1 ranked batter in ICC’s women’s T20I rankings.
When the Indian women’s team's batter Shafali Verma was entering her teens, her father would take her and her older brother to a ground near their house and engage in a competition that would see the three bat for a reward of Rs.5 or sometimes Rs.10.
Shafali, who won Player of the Series award in the T20I series against South Africa on Tuesday despite India losing the series, played some scintillating knocks in the series. She hammered a 30-ball 60 on Tuesday night to lead India to a consolation win.
"She learnt to play attacking cricket from an early age. One of the things that helped her get into the attacking mould was a drill that we did together. I would pick an odd time, after 11 am or so, and take her and my son Sahil to the ground. I chose odd time to ensure there would be no crowd. Each of us would face six balls and whoever would hit most sixes or fours would get a reward of Rs.5 and sometimes Rs.10," said her father Sanjeev Verma, who runs a jewellery shop on Railway Road in Rohtak.
"For a 12 or 13-year-old, Rs.5 or Rs.10 was great. This drill went on daily for about four months and the base of her big-hitting was set," adds Verma.
The 17-year old was ignored for the ODI leg of South Africa’s tour, a series that India lost 4-1 just prior to the T20Is.
The right-handed batter, however, says she needs to work on fitness.
"I need to work more on my fitness, and [getting picked for] one-day side would be my goal. Not getting named in the ODI squad is a motivation for me, really, to play even better and break into the side. I wasn't too disappointed but I saw it as a huge motivating factor," she said after Tuesday's match-winning innings in Lucknow.
With 130 runs in 3 matches, Shafali was the series’ highest run-scorer and her innings of 23 and 47 in the first two matches also helped the teenager reclaim the number one spot in the ICC women’s T20I rankings for batters.
Shafali had become the world number one for the first time last year after helping India reach the knockout phase of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup in Australia. She has leapfrogged Australia's Beth Mooney to take back the top spot.
Despite missing out on international cricket for a year – with the Indian women’s team not playing any matches – Shafali needed just two innings to reclaim her spot.
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