Shafali Verma takes ODI omission in stride, keen to work harder

"When I wasn't picked for the one-dayers, I felt I might be lacking something," said Shafali. 
Indian women cricketer Shafali Verma.
Indian women cricketer Shafali Verma.

CHENNAI: With the 50-over World Cup less than 11 months away, it is hard to look at the Indian women's team without Shafali Verma. Though she was ignored for the ODIs against South Africa — the team's first international assignment in a year — the 17-year-old has made a strong case for her inclusion with her performances in the T20I series that concluded on Tuesday. 

After scoring a 22-ball 23 and a 31-ball 47, Shafali produced a match-winning 60 off 30 in the third T20I to hand consolation victory for India.

Probably one of the most modern women's cricketer at the moment, her high-risk, high-reward approach would only add more value to the one-day setup, considering that India do not have power-hitters beyond Harmanpreet Kaur at No 5. 

Speaking after being adjudged the Player of the Series in Lucknow on Tuesday, she took the omission in her stride. 

"When I wasn't picked for the one-dayers, I felt I might be lacking something," said Shafali. 

"But I did not go ask the captain or the coach because I knew deep down that if my name was not there, it is probably because I only lack something." 

Having played 22 T20Is since her debut in 2019, the opener has an overall strike rate of 148.31 and has often given India the brisk starts in the shortest format. Not long ago, India's one-day skipper Mithali Raj said Shafali is on the radar for the 50-over games. 

To break into the squad, Shafali revealed that she is working on her fitness to play as long as possible. 

"I made up my mind I will work more on my fitness and make sure to play according to the balls," she added. 

"Not getting named in the one-day squad is a motivation for me to play even better. I motivated myself to work even harder and play better. No matter what position I get to play in, I will try to extend my innings for as long as possible and score well."
With BCCI yet to announce the next schedule for India women, the player from Haryana is keen to iron out her technical flaws to be match ready. During the third T20I, she scored 58 of the 60 runs through boundaries and rotating the strike is one aspect that she said she would want to work on when she gets back home. 

"Whenever I go to my hometown, (while training) I try to choose balls that I think I should hit and pay attention to rotating the strike by taking singles and doubles. For one-dayers, too, I think shot-selection based on the merit of the balls has been my focus," Shafali elaborated. 

"When I went in to bat, I wanted to make sure I bat well because this is the last match for me. There is some time before the next series, so I wanted to do my best and do well for the team and score well." 

Having conquered the shortest format, time will only tell if she can do the same in one-dayers.

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