India star opener Smriti Mandhana is happy to share the limelight with teenager Shafali Verma. The 16-year-old batting prodigy has made a mark in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup scoring 68 runs across two games, including five sixes and seven fours, at an impressive strike rate of 212.
She received the Player of the Match award for her 17-ball 39 against Bangladesh, a match which Mandhana missed after picking up viral fever. Earlier, the senior pro’s absence would be a concern for India but not anymore. “The way she [Shafali] is going about her batting, it’s so easy to bat alongside her. I used to score a lot of our runs in the last three years, especially in the Powerplay, but now with Shafali coming in, she’s getting the runs in the way I do. It makes the team more balanced,” said Mandhana.
“She’s got a routine she likes to follow, and that’s the best thing about her. No-one has gone in and told her she has to change that. I used to have a major role in Powerplays, but Shafali is getting the quick runs in those first overs now,” she said.
There’s no surprise Verma is also the talk of India’s next opponents New Zealand, who they face at Melbourne’s Junction Oval on Thursday.
Fast bowler Lea Tahuhu said, “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. I actually played her in the T20 Challenge in India last year and I know she’s not going to take a step back.”
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