At 16, Shafali Verma was India’s highest run scorer in her first senior T20 World Cup in 2020. Seven months earlier, she had become the youngest to feature in a T20 International at the age of 15.
And so when she was caught behind by Alyssa Healy, in the third ball of an unsuccessful chase, while trying to go for a boundary, it was just seen as an off day for one of the most promising young cricketers.Cut to three years later, watching her lead India in the maiden U19 Women’s T20 World Cup final shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, the journey since the 2020 World Cup hasn’t been as smooth as many believed it would be for Shafali.
Sunday presents an opportunity for Shafali to create happy memories of an ICC event.
With over 2,000 runs in 74 games, Shafali has had a mixed run with the senior side. In T20Is, the format she has most featured in, the explosive opener scored 487 runs in her first 19 matches at a strike rate above 146 up until the 2020 final in Melbourne.
In the next 32 outings, the strike rate dropped to 127.83. In the ODIs, while she averages a tad better than the shorterest format, she was dropped for three consecutive games at the World Cup last year.At the Under-19 World Cup, as the most experienced player in the side, she has had to guide the team.
“Yes, I’ve played a lot of finals and seen it all,” Shafali, who turned 19 on Saturday, said on the eve of the final. “It’s about going out there and enjoying the game. I’ve told the teammates ‘don’t stress, just give your 100 percent without thinking of it as the final. Just believe in yourself. It’s all past and that cannot be recreated. We are determined to bring the World Cup this time and are trying to improve day by day,” she added.