One of the finest players in the T20I format, New Zealand's Suzie Bates has showered praise on Shafali Verma, the 16-year-old Indian opener who has taken the T20 World Cup by storm, owing to her whirlwind knocks in the three group games so far.
She has already dominated world-class bowling attacks and there is certainly no doubt about the fact that she is the next big thing in the making for the India eves.
Verma's fearless approach at the top of the batting order is giving India good starts which have overshadowed their poor performance in the middle and the late overs. The teenage sensation top-scored with 46 against New Zealand and bagged her second consecutive Player of the Match Award as India edged out the White Ferns.
She has already amassed 114 runs in three matches so far at a staggering strike rate of 172.72 - the highest in a single edition of a Women’s T20 World Cup. In just three matches, she has smashed 11 fours and 8 sixes and Bates feels that India were searching for someone like Verma for a long time.
"As a senior player, you love to see a youngster come out and hit the ball hard. I think India has been searching for someone like her at the top of the order for a long time. She's just going to get better and better.
"I think we bowled reasonably well at her and got unlucky. She's great for the game moving forward and for Indian cricket. She's so young and has so many games ahead of her that she can dominate."
Meanwhile, for New Zealand it was 19-year-old Amelia Kerr who kept them in the game, courtesy of some exceptional hitting in the last two overs. She took on Poonam Yadav and smashed her for 18 runs in the penultimate over.
Eventually, Shikha Pandey held her nerves and defended 16 runs in the final over as India won the match by just three runs. Kerr also bagged the wicket of Verma at a crucial juncture of the game which had put New Zealand on the ascendancy. And Bates reserved praise for Kerr as well.
"Verma and Kerr are a similar sort of player. You don't find many players who come into international cricket at the age of 16 around the world.
"We've got the likes of Sophie (Devine) who whacks it pretty hard when she gets the chance, but we love having youngsters come through who are able to do the same."
India, who have already qualified for the semi-finals, will next face Sri Lanka in their final group game tomorrow.Published 28 Feb 2020, 17:04 IST