Back in 2013, nine-year-old Shafali Verma accompanied her dad to witness Sachin Tendulkar’s final Ranji Trophy match. Here, she sat atop her father’s shoulders at the Bansi Lal stadium in Haryana, screeching at the top of her voice, “Sachin, Sachin!” as she cheered on the legendary cricket hero. And as fate would have it, the girl who once stanned Tendulkar hard has just gone on to smash his international cricket record.
On Sunday, November 10, the Indian women’s cricket team opener broke new ground while playing against West Indies in the International T20 series in St Lucia. The right-handed batswoman, at the age of 15 years and 285 days, became the youngest Indian to score a half-century in international cricket, breaking Tendulkar’s 30-year-old record. Tendulkar was 16 years and 214 days when he scored a half-century against Pakistan in 1989. This is also the second record in international cricket that Verma has broken, the first one being set when she became the youngest Indian to play a Twenty20 international cricket match when she made her international debut. In the match against the women’s team of West Indies, Verma killed it in the first 49 balls by scoring 73 runs, which included six boundaries. The 15-year-old shared a record 143-run opening partnership with Smriti Mandhana, making it the highest partnership for any wicket by an Indian pair in T20Is.
This teenage wonder from the city of Rohtak in Haryana while growing up had to disguise herself as a boy just to enrol in cricket academies that wouldn’t admit girls, even skipping her Grade 10 board exams to play a match. But she admits that training in this fearless, no-partiality environment is what makes her hits so strong. This young girl who once watched her "cricket God" Tendulkar from afar, is slowly emerging as a sensation. And given that she’s already shattering records in just her fifth T20 match, clearly, the force is strong with this one.
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