Shafali Verma is the youngest ever Indian female cricketer to have played international cricket. The daughter cum boy wonder came into limelight when she hit 34 of just 31 balls in the Women’s T20 Challenge in Jaipur held a few months back sensing the selectors her arrival.
Although, the Rohtak born cricketer had to chop his hair to look like a boy as most of the cricket academies were denying her training.
Her father Anjeev Verma told AFP “I introduced her to cricket when she was eight or nine. I used to take her to play neighbourhood teams on Sundays,”
“Most teams refused to play against her. They said that she could get hurt and that I would complain if that happened”. He further added.
That was the crucial moment when her father decided to trick the academies and opponents.
At eight or nine, all kids look the same. After the haircut, most didn’t even notice she was a girl and she started playing regularly at weekends,” he added.
He told that Shafali training with boys was never a concern and believed that it would only enhance her skill as a cricketer. But the issue was academies refusing his child to give admission.
Most in town refused to take a girl. I eventually found one which took boys and girls. It was eight kilometres from our house and she used to cycle there for training each day,” Anjeev verma added.
The daughter and father duo are the diehard fans of Sachin Tendulkar and it was Sachin Tendulkar last Ranji match at Lahli that ignited the passion in Shafali to take up the sport.
“I have always been a Sachin fan and I made sure that I introduced her to his batting very early. We watched so many Sachin innings together,” Shafali father said.
Now since Shafali has made it big in international cricket at a tender age of 15, her 17 year old brother Sahil is also giving tough competition and is a strong candidate to play international cricket.
“Even my youngest daughter Nancy, 6, has started playing cricket. Both of them are inspired by their sister.
“I just hope she plays for the national team for a long time and is part of the first Indian women’s team to win the World Cup,” her father concluded.