Mithali Raj: Shafali can be the future for India

Shafali Verma, who replaced the recently retired Mithali Raj in the T20I squad, earned her maiden call-up for the ongoing series against South Africa.

Shafali Verma was dismissed for a duck on T20I debut against South Africa on Tuesday.   -  FILE PHOTO/V.V. KRISHNAN

Even Mahendra Singh Dhoni had started his T20I career with a duck, and against South Africa only. Fifteen-year-old Shafali Verma — who didn’t disturb the scorers in her first international outing on Tuesday — earned support from senior pro Mithali Raj.

“I seriously think that she is a talented youngster. And given the right kind of exposure and mentored properly, she can be the future player for India,” India ODI captain praised the batswoman.

Shafali, who replaced the recently retired Mithali in the T20I squad, earned her maiden call-up for the ongoing series against South Africa. Though India won the opening game in Surat, Shafali was dismissed for a duck.

Mithali also wants the ODI side to do well in the upcoming three-match series against South Africa though it is not part of the ICC Championship.

READ| Mithali Raj announces retirement from T20Is

“Though we don’t have the ICC Championship points, I want the ODI side to do well. It gives exposure to the young players in the team as well as match exposure for us before the West Indies tour,” said Mithali.

Now that Mithali will be only playing one format, she feels that she has more time to work on her fitness.

“I have more time to work as a player on my skill on my fitness. I can give more importance to exclusively train on my strength and fitness sessions, which can help me come fresh for the ODI series,” added Mithali.

Mithali also revealed her fitness routine.

“My fitness routine consists of running, strength and of course, walking, because at times when we don’t have access to facilities, the simplest thing to do is to walk for 30-45 minutes, because in way it helps to decrease the stiffness or tightness that an athlete develops through strenuous days of play or after a long flight,” she signed off.