India’s prodigy player Shafali Verma mentioned that she would like to be recognised by her own name pushing aside all the comparisons made with some iconic players of the game.
The 17-year-old, who hails from Rohtak in Haryana, became the youngest Indian to make her debut across all formats of cricket.
She made headlines for her ferocious batting style and complements Smriti Mandhana at the top in scoring quickfire runs for India. She missed by four runs to reach her maiden Test century on debut against England women’s team.
I want to be known by own name: Shafali Verma
Verma is compared with the likes of former India opener Virender Sehwag and West Indies great Sir Vivian Richards for her attacking style of batting.
But the young Indian batter wishes to be called by her name rather than being dubbed with any other player’s fame and also said it gives her confidence when she sees herself with the likes of Sehwag.
“I want to be known as just Shafali Verma. I want to be known for my own style. It’s not that I don’t watch and observe other players’ games. I want to learn from them, but I don’t want to copy them,” Verma told Times of India.
“As I said, I want to be known by my own name and not as someone’s clone. But there is no denying the fact that when I am compared to Sehwag, it gives me tremendous confidence,” she added.
Verma, who has scored 902 international runs across the three formats so far, said she practiced with boys during the lockdown and worked on tackling the bouncers.
“I do realise what the areas of my game are that I need to improve. And during the series and in between the series I always make an effort to work on those. During the lockdown, I practiced with boys and practiced playing short balls and against pace,” Verma said.
“I knew that when we travel for a series outside India, I might face such bowling. Playing with boys is always hard and helps when you play the women game after that. It helps improve your feet movement and reflexes. I thought I was weak against bouncers, so faced maybe 100 bouncers a day during practice,” she added.
Verma participated in England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) inaugural tournament ‘The Women’s Hundred’, where she represented for Birmingham Phoenix women’s team and scored 171 runs from eight innings.
The change of format is evident in how I approach the net session: Shafali Verma
She blasted 76 from 42 balls against Welsh Fire women’s team, her innings included nine fours and a couple of sixes. Verma also played for India in the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia, where her team lost to the hosts in the final.
Verma talked about her mindset while playing different formats like Test and T20I cricket and how she adapted with them respectively.
“See, in T20 cricket you have to go after good balls too, and I was doing that so far. Now when it came to Test cricket, I knew I couldn’t do that. I knew it would be about spending time at the crease and playing the waiting game. I was mentally ready to do that before I walked out to bat. It was my first Test and I was determined to enjoy the moment. That’s what I did. It was a great learning curve,” Verma said.
“When it came to The Hundred, it was a new format and concept. But luckily, I was part of the Indian T20 teams that played three games against England right before The Hundred started. This gave me some game time to once again be ready for the fast-paced game. The change of format is evident in how I approach the net sessions,” she added.
Verma will come back to India from the United Kingdom (UK) and will join the Indian team before they leave for Australia to play multi-format series next month.