Dubai: The Women’s T20 World Cup may be now behind us, but the image of young Shafali Verma in tears after Indian team’s humiliating defeat in the final to hosts Australia has stayed on with the netizens - especially the cricketing fraternity.
The 16-year-old Indian batswoman, who had captured the imagination of cricket fans for the past year, had been the revelation of the tournament with her powerful strokeplay and scored 163 runs at a strike rate of 158.25 - a rarity in women’s cricket. However, the final at Melbourne on Sunday was certainly not her day as Verma dropped a catch in the first over and possibly had that playing on her mind when she fell to a poor stroke for only two runs.
However, her rare talent did not go unnoticed as Shafali was named as the 12th member of International Cricket Ccouncil’s Team of T20 World Cup - the only other Indian player in the elite group was leg spinner Poonam Yadav. The latter, who had Australia in knots in a dramatic opening game of the tournament (which India won) with four wickets, three against Bangladesh and then wickets in all matches.
The baby-faced Shafali, whose trademark shot seemed to be dancing down the wickets to hit the bowlers over their head - did not come easily. According to coach Ashwani Kumar, she apparently used to practice such shots 50 times a day at the nets.
“We made her play every shot, including that, at least 50-times-a-day,” Kumar, who honed her talent in Shree Ram Narain Cricket Academy in Rohtak in the said in an interview ahead of the final.
“She was barely 12 when she enrolled but within months she started striking the ball so hard that we started fearing for the safety of other girls in that group,” Kumar said.
Sparing a thought about the prodigious youngster, former Australian sppedster Brett Lee said: “I really felt for Shafali Verma at the end, it was tough seeing her in tears but she should be very proud of the way she’s performed in Australia.
“To come out here and face your first tournament head-on is testament to her talent and mental strength, and she’s only going to get better from here,” Lee told the ICC website.
“When you drop a chance, the one thing you want is another one and unfortunately she didn’t get it, but she’ll learn from this experience and come back stronger.
“Moments like this can define you in a positive way – it’s never about what happens, it’s about how you respond to it and Shafali has proven she can cope with anything. Don’t be surprised to see her put a big score on the Aussies the next time they play,” he added.
Team of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020
1.Alyssa Healy (wk) (Australia) – 236 runs at 39.33, seven dismissals
2.Beth Mooney (Australia) – 259 runs at 64.75
3.Nat Sciver (England) – 202 runs at 67.33
4.Heather Knight (England) – 193 runs at 64.33
5.Meg Lanning (c) (Australia) – 132 runs at 44
6.Laura Wolvaardt (South Africa) – 94 runs at strike rate of 149
7.Jess Jonassen (Australia) – 10 wickets at 14.00
8.Sophie Ecclestone (England) – eight wickets at 6.12
9.Anya Shrubsole (England) – eight wickets at 10.62
10.Megan Schutt (Australia) – 13 wickets at 10.30
11.Poonam Yadav (India) – 10 wickets at 11.90
12th member: Shafali Verma (India) – 163 runs at strike rate of 158.25