16-year-old India opener Shafali Verma, who recently climbed on top of the T20I batting rankings is already giving nightmares to Australia pacers ahead of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final on Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. So much so that Megan Schutt expressed her concerns over facing her once again in the big final.
Schutt was hit for 16 runs in an over that included four boundaries – three of them in a row – in the first match of the Women’s T20 World Cup by Shafali Verma.
Schutt, who took a crucial 2/17 in Australia’s five-run win over South Africa in the rain-hit semifinal on Thursday, has still not recovered from the drubbing she got at the hands of Verma in the tournament-opener.
Schutt, who was the No.1-ranked T20I bowler at the start of the tournament (she has now replaced by England’s Sophie Ecclestone) said the Indian openers Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana have got her covered ever since the tri-series, which took place just before the world event.
“Smriti and Shafali have got me covered. That six Shafali hit me for in the tri-series was probably the biggest one I’ve ever been hit for, Schutt was quoted as saying by the official website of the ICC.
Agreeing that they will come up with better plans to counter the Indian openers in the final on Sunday, Schutt said she might not be best bet to bowl to them in the powerplay.
“There are obviously some plans we’re going to revisit as bowlers. (But) clearly, I’m not the best match-up to those two in the Powerplay. They find me quite easy to play,” she added.
With 161 runs in 4 matches, Shafali Verma is India’s leading run-scorer in the tournament. More than the runs, the manner in which she gets them, has earned praise from all quarters. Legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar praised her after India had reached the semi-finals. “Fantastic performance by our Flag of India team to become the first team to enter the semi-final of T20 World Cup. It was a tight game and we played well under pressure. Was great to see Shafali Verma play yet another crucial knock,” Tendulkar had tweeted.
Shafali’s blistering strokeplay has often drawn comparisons with former opener Virender Sehwag. The man himself had termed her a rockstar a few days earlier.
“Wah bhai Wah ! Great effort by the girls to hold on to their nerves and beat New Zealand and qualify for the semi finals of the T20 World Cup. Shafali Verma is a rockstar. Anand aa raha hai ladkiyon ka performance dekhne mein,” tweeted Virender Sehwag.
India will face Australia in Sunday’s summit clash, where India will have an edge after stunning the defending champions by 17 runs in the tournament opener.