Making a fabulous Test debut at Bristol earlier this month, the teenaged batter cracked 96 & 63. Now, the same venue, on Sunday, will see the Rohtak girl play the first ODI of her promising career.
It will be interesting to see if Shafali enjoys a smashing start in the ODIs too. Mithali, on her part, has given the youngster complete freedom to play her shots regardless of the risks involved. Clearly, India are banking on her to provide an explosive start.
“That’s how she plays, it’s her strength and style of batting. There will be times when she gives us a head start. She’s a young kid, she’ll also learn to build an innings.
“As a captain, I want her to enjoy her style of playing. If we lose early wickets, we as middle order are there to rebuild, or if we get a good start, take the momentum forward. We have the batting depth to do that,” said the veteran batter at a virtual presser on Saturday.
Shafali’s much-awaited initiation in the ODIs is also necessary because there’s a women’s ODI World Cup next year in New Zealand.
Shafali Verma (Photo credit: Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, asked if the team celebrated her debut anniversary, the 38-year-old said: “We’ve just arrived for our session, so no thought of celebrations yet. We have an important game. It feels nice to get up to messages congratulating me on my career. If I have to give one advice to my younger self: Enjoy getting onto the ground representing your country. At that time, the expectation was so much that I didn’t realise the importance of wearing the blue jersey. That will be something I’ll tell a 16-year-old Mithali.”
‘Wanted to continue batting’
Mithali also revealed that the Indian team wanted to continue batting, perhaps with an eye to let their saviour Sneh Rana (80 not out) to score a well-deserved century on the closing stages on the final day of the one-off Test at the Bristol County Ground earlier this month, but the umpires called it stumps.
Thanks to a superb, fighting, unbeaten 104-run ninth wicket partnership between Rana and Taniya Bhatia (44 not out), the Indian women’s team managed to salvage a draw, but the visitors were left a bit stumped with the way the proceedings concluded.
“We wanted to continue the play, that’s what we informed the opposing captain, and they continued. But then I was told by Sneh, because I was also a little on the backfoot when I saw the bails coming off and them walking out.
“So I asked her what happened and she said that it was a bad light call had been taken by the umpire. That’s what they were told,” explained Mithali, before elaborating what eventually left her a bit puzzled.
“But then, I saw the teams were congratulating (each other), so the umpires said that since both the teams are congratulating, it’s pretty much taken that the match is over. That’s what I was told by Sneh. So, that’s what happened.”