Cricket

ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020: Shafali Verma, the hard-hitting 16-year-old prodigy born to play T20 cricket

  • Abhishek Mukherjee
  • March 7th, 2020
  • 10:28:16 IST

Shafali Verma was definitely the brightest talent scouted by BCCI in 2019. She was fast-tracked into mainstream T20 cricket after a 38-ball 49 against an international-standard Railways attack, followed by a 56-ball 128 (116 of which came in fours and sixes) against Nagaland — all of which was scored inside 15 overs. Barely 15, she was included in the Velocity squad in the Women's T20 Challenge.

She impressed with a couple of cameos, demonstrating proficiency against both pace and spin, combining deft applications with uninhibited savagery. Danni Wyatt, who partnered her during her innings against Trailblazers, would almost immediately predict an Indian cap for him by 2019. She was correct. Mithali Raj would agree to her in a few months' time.

Shafali Verma has been India's highest run-getter in this World Cup with 161 runs in four matches so far. Photo ICC

Shafali Verma has been India's highest run-getter in this World Cup with 161 runs in four matches so far. Photo ICC

By September Verma was playing for India. By the end of the year she had cemented her place. By February she was taking on the best bowlers in the world on Australian soil. And by March she had scaled the top spot in ICC rankings for Women's T20I batters. Here is how she progressed (the numbers are cumulative).

Shafali Verma cumulative T20I record
Date Ave SR Rating Ranking
Sep 24 0 0 23 712
Oct 1 23 124 271 87
Oct 3 20 122 267 88
Oct 4 16 112 227 104
Nov 9 27.4 129 408 47
Nov 10 41.2 146 539 23
Nov 14 34.33 143 506 27
Nov 17 30.43 144 494 29
Nov 20 27.75 142 485 30
Jan 31 28 139 515 27
Feb 2 25.7 140 492 31
Feb 7 24.09 137 474 34
Feb 8 26.17 142 563 17
Feb 12 24.92 141 551 20
Feb 21 25.21 144 604 13
Feb 24 26.13 150 671 7
Feb 27 27.38 148 736 3
Feb 29 28.53 147 761 1

Despite scoring only two fifties, Verma's career aggregate stands at 485 runs (she would have made it to the 500-run mark had the semi-final against England not been washed out). She has scored 161 of these runs in four innings the ongoing T20 World Cup — somehow averaging over 40 without reaching fifty even once.

However, when it comes to strike rate, both career and in the ongoing tournament, Verma's numbers make remarkable reading:

Best strike rates
Career: 400 runs T20 World Cup 2020: 100 runs
Batter R SR Batter R SR
Shafali Verma 485 147 Shafali Verma 161 161
Chloe Tryon 757 140 Laura Wolvaardt 94 149
Alyssa Healy 1,985 131 Alyssa Healy 161 144
Ashleigh Gardner 645 128 Lizelle Lee 119 138
Sophie Devine 2,384 126 Heather Knight 193 137
Smriti Mandhana* 1,705 119 Deepti Sharma* 83 97
(*next best among Indians)

One of the reasons behind Verma's success is her ability to find the boundary with alarming regularity. Less than a year into her career and barely 16, Verma is already one of 14 batters to hit 20 fours and 20 sixes in the past five years (she has played only 18 matches, remember) — and has hit them more frequently than anyone else in this batch:

Fewest balls faced/boundary hit
20 fours, 20 sixes since 2015 3 fours, 3 sixes in 2020 T20 World Cup
Batter 4s 6s BF B/B Batter 4s 6s BF B/B
Shafali Verma 58 21 330 4.18 Shafali Verma 18 9 100 3.7
Alyssa Healy 194 29 946 4.24 Lizelle Lee 19 3 86 3.91
Sophie Devine 148 71 1116 5.1 Chamari Athapaththu 19 7 114 4.38
Ashleigh Gardner 74 24 504 5.14 Alyssa Healy 21 4 112 4.48
Danni Wyatt 143 22 902 5.47 Heather Knight 22 5 141 5.22
Chloe Tryon 43 25 372 5.47 Chloe Tryon 3 3 32 5.33
Lizelle Lee 146 35 993 5.49 Maddy Green 6 4 82 8.2
Smriti Mandhana 202 32 1304 5.57 Rachael Haynes 6 3 81 9
Hayley Matthews 110 23 831 6.25 Sophie Devine 11 3 127 9.07

In the big tournament, Verma, the youngest of all names mentioned here, has actually improved on the frequency of her already astonishing boundary hitting, bringing it down to well below one every four balls bowled. Lizelle Lee has obviously improved as well, but Verma has simply increased the gap between her and the others.

There is little doubt that her performance in this edition has been one of a kind. Put a cut-off of 100 runs, and only Deandra Dottin has had a strike rate better than Verma's 161 in a single edition.

Best strike rates in a single edition (100 runs)
Batter Edition R SR
Deandra Dottin 2010 113 213.2
Shafali Verma 2020 161 161
Harmanpreet Kaur 2018 183 160.5
Meg Lanning 2014 257 158.6
Alyssa Healy 2018 225 144.2

However, Dottin's performance in that series was as unusual as they made them: 112*, 1, 0, 0, the last two being golden ducks. In other words, while she did get runs once, she was far from consistent. Verma, on the other hand, has scored 39, 29, 47, and 46.

The Indian bowling attack has impressed. In fact, the bowlers have been so impactful that even four of them can be good enough for more sides. However, the same cannot be said of their batters, who are almost entirely dependent on Verma for now in the final, at Melbourne.

Her performance in the Powerplay overs may change, even define, the course of the final. Whether a 16-year old can absorb that level of pressure needs to be seen.

Updated Date: March 07, 2020 10:28:16 IST

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

IPL 2021: Australian cricketers will have to make own arrangements for return, says PM Scott Morrison
First Cricket News

IPL 2021: Australian cricketers will have to make own arrangements for return, says PM Scott Morrison

"They have travelled there privately. This wasn't part of an Australian tour. They're under their own resources and they'll be using those resources too, I'm sure, to see them return to Australia in accordance with their own arrangements," Morrison said.

Australia suspends direct passenger flights from India till 15 May, announces support package
World

Australia suspends direct passenger flights from India till 15 May, announces support package

Australia will send 500 ventilators, one million surgical masks, 5,00,000 protective masks, goggles and face shields to India

Three T20 World Cup European qualifiers cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
First Cricket News

Three T20 World Cup European qualifiers cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

The T20 World Cup Americas Qualifier, due to be hosted in Canada between 17 and 23 July, involving the hosts, Argentina, Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Panama and the USA, has been postponed due to government and travel restrictions