Jan 30, 2023By: Eetika Kapoor
Shafali Verma led the India team that won the inaugural ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup by defeating England on Sunday. Here’s everything you need to know about this 19-year-old cricket prodigy, who is a big fan of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar.
Shafali finished the T20 U19 event as the third leading run-scorer with a total of 172 runs. Opener Shweta Sehrawat topped the charts with 297 runs. Spinners Parshavi Chopra (12 wickets) and Mannat Kashyap (nine) were among the leading wicket-takers, as per ANI.
On her team’s win at the ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup on Sunday, Shafali told ANI, "When I joined the Under-19 team, I am just thinking, 'you know, we have to win this Cup.' I am just telling all the girls, 'We have to win this Cup, we are here for the Cup."
She is currently ranked the 8th best batswoman in the world and had topped the chart in 2021. She is ranked 36th on the T20I all-rounder table for women cricketers. Her journey to cricket glory, however, has not been easy.
Verma was born in Rohtak, Haryana in 2004. With no cricket academies for girls, Verma was forced to disguise herself as a boy to play at a nearby boys cricket academy. Everytime she hit a six, she would get ₹5 rupees from her cricket fanatic father Sanjeev Verma.
Her father Sanjeev Verma, an ardent cricket lover himself, runs a small jewellery shop in Rohtak. ‘No one was ready to induct her in any academy because there was not a single one for girls in Rohtak. I literally begged them to give her a chance but in vain,’ he said.
Shafali played her first match in the under-12 boys cricket tournament in Panipat, Haryana disguised as her brother Sahil. She won man of the match and man of the series. She played her first international test match at the age of 15.
Shafali got inspired to take up cricket after seeing Tendulkar’s last Ranji Trophy match in Lahli, Haryana, in 2013. In 2019, she surpassed her idol’s 30-year record to become the youngest Indian cricketer to score a half century. She was only 15 at the time and it was her first half century.
At the age of 15, Shafali was signed as one of the brand ambassadors of food and beverage company PepsiCo. During the ICC Women's 2020 T20I World Cup, Verma played against Australia in the final match.
In an address during one of the women’s T20 matches, England batswoman Danielle Wyatt said, “Young Shafali Verma will be India's superstar.. I saw this girl batting, didn’t think she was this young then the coach said she is only 15,” she said.
At the Women's Asia Cup 2022, aged just 18, Shafali Verma became the world’s youngest female cricket player to score 1,000 runs in T20I cricket. She beat the previous record held by Jemimah Rodrigues, who won the title at 21 years of age.
Shafali Verma has just begun. After the U19 World Cup win on Sunday, she said: “I will look at this as a big achievement and look to use this to learn something more. I will try to score more runs for India and am not going to be satisfied with this Cup. This is just the beginning.”