Smriti Mandhana praise for big-hitter Shafali Verma
She has been the backbone of the Indian women’s cricket team’s batting but swashbuckling opener Smriti Mandhana is delighted that teen prodigy Shafali Verma is stealing her thunder at the ongoing Women’s T20 World Cup as it takes the pressure off her.
The 23-year-old Mandhana, who has been a key player for the Indian team in the last two-three years, said Verma is showing she is capable of filling her boots.
“I used to score a lot of our runs in the last two or three years, especially in the Powerplay, but now with Shafali coming in, she’s getting the runs the way I do. It makes the team more balanced,” Mandhana said.
“Shafali has been a huge positive coming into the T20 side. The way she’s going about her batting, it’s so easy to bat alongside her,” Mandhana said on the eve of India’s group match against New Zealand here on Thursday.
Verma has already announced her emergence on the global stage. The 16-year-old has scored 68 runs across two games this World Cup, including five sixes and seven fours, at an impressive strike rate of 212.
The teenager, making her ICC Women’s T20 World Cup debut in Australia, picked up the Player of the Match award for her 39 runs against Bangladesh, a game which Mandhana missed after picking up viral fever.
Talking about Thursday’s match against New Zealand, Mandhana said: “I don’t think we will be going into the game thinking about a total, but we will continue playing the way that is working for all of our batters.”
Seasoned New Zealand pacer Lea Tahuhu said she is looking forward to bowling at Verma. “Personally, I love the thought of facing Verma. It makes me fire up a little bit more and I’m really looking forward to playing her,” said Tahuhu.
Pak whip WI
Pakistan thumped former champions, the West Indies, by eight wickets in their opening match in Canberra. The West Indies posted 124 for seven, courtesy Stafanie Taylor (43) and Shemaine Campbelle (43). Pakistan reached the target with 10 balls to spare, losing only two wickets.
In another match, captain Heather Knight’s maiden T20I century helped England notch up a record-breaking 98-run victory over Thailand.