A unique feat was achieved by Shafali Varma on the eve of the 4th T20I versus Australia. 18-year-old Shafali Varma becomes the first teenager in women’s international cricket history to play 50+ games in any format.
Shafali Verma continues to be a trailblazer and in the match versus Australia, she achieved the unique feat of becoming the first-ever teenager to feature in 50 games across any format. She surpasses the list that comprises Kavisha Egodage of the United Arab Emirates (46*), Sarah Taylor of England (44), Jemimah Rodrigues of India (44) and Henriette Ishimwe of Rwanda (44). In the 50 T20Is that she has featured in, she has scored 1198 runs at an average of 24.9 and an admirable strike rate of 135.4.
Shafali Verma also holds the distinction of being the youngest player to play T20I cricket for India. She rose to prominence in the women’s exhibition match in 2019. She batted at the top of the order with great courage for a 15-year-old, and despite not getting many runs, her immense confidence and clarity in shot selection and power hitting amazed everyone. Shafali was also impressive in the Women’s T20 Challenge later in the year, earning a spot on the National squad for the home T20Is against South Africa.
Shafali’s greatest strength is her daring approach to gameplay, and she is the much-needed aggressor at the top of the order that the Women in Blue have long waited for. Very few people are aware that Shafali had to conceal her identity and disguise herself as a boy growing up in order to train because there was no academy for girls in her hometown of Rohtak. Despite his obvious fear of being caught, her father reluctantly agreed to this plan and vehemently supported Shafali. She idolized Sachin Tendulkar and is also a major fan of AB de Villiers. Her attacking style of play as an opener is clearly a legacy of Virender Sehwag and is a crowd-puller wherever she plays.
In other news, Shafali has also been selected for the U19 team in the U19 World Cup in South Africa in 2023. She will captain India’s 15-member squad for the forthcoming bilateral T20 series against South Africa U19 as well as the ICC U-19 Women’s T20 World Cup. Her inclusion with Richa Ghosh has raised eyebrows. But focusing on the value they bring to the side, first things first is how it adds tremendous quality to an already strong squad. Second, it gives Verma and Ghosh the opportunity to serve as mentors to a group of cricketers about to embark on their most difficult assignment yet. Furthermore, it allows the two senior cricketers to acclimatize to tournament play in South African conditions, where the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup is also slated to take place in February.
With a chance to make history at the World Cup, a dynamic leader like Shafali already has 50 T20I matches under her belt besides 2 Tests and 21 ODIs she has featured in, she reeks of experience and youth, the perfect mix and it will be interesting to see how the coming few months pan out for her and India.
I am a first year postgraduate student pursuing a MA in Media and Communication Studies at Christ University, Bengaluru. I am a podcaster, blogger and an avid cricket fan. When not glued to cricket matches, you can find me submerged in books and thinking about cricket all the time.