West Indies Women vs India Women | 15-year old Shafali Verma break's Sachin Tendulkar's 30-year old record
Much talked about teen-sensation, Shafali Verma finally lived up to the high-profile expectations of a big-hitter after early jitters in her career. In the first T20I against West Indies Women in St. Lucia, Shafali stroked her way through to a magnificent 73 runs off only 49 deliveries to announce herself on the big stage.
Stand-in West Indies captain Anisa Mohammad’s decision to bowl first was proved wrong in the most destructive fashion by Indian openers Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma. Both players stitched together a record 143-run stand to help India reach a massive 185 runs in 20 overs.
On their way to the highest ever partnership for any wicket for Indian Women in T20Is, Verma entered into the record books as the youngest Indian ever to score an international fifty, eclipsing the great Sachin Tendulkar on her way. Shafali’s knock was studded with four sixes and six fours at an incredible strike-rate of 148.98.
The knock sparked a debate between her fifty to the one Tendulkar scored against Pakistan in 1989. It is unfair to compare today's brand of cricket with the style played 30 years ago. In Tendulkar's case- a tough opposition and the quality of fast bowling took center stage. He once spoke to ESPN and remembered his first Test fifty and the experience of taking on Pakistan's fearsome quicks. He said:
“I was nervous and didn’t know what was going on around me. I thought it was a school game going on and I batted as if it was one. I can never forget that moment as I felt that was the first and the last Test match of my career.”
Although the comparisons are immature, one cannot stop wondering the magnitude of these innings in the present scenario. At 16 years and 214 days, Sachin Tendulkar scored his maiden Test fifty against Pakistan at Faisalabad in 1989 on November 24. His innings was a physical and psychological battle against the ruthlessness of Imran Khan, Waqar Younis, and Wasim Akram.
In Verma's case, the opposition was probably not the greatest but the intent with which she went about her business was breathtaking. She even overshadowed the classy Smriti Mandhana, who scored 67 runs off 46 balls. Tendulkar's record, which stood for 30 years was broken by the Haryana born Verma in only her second international series. Her previous best was 46 in her second T20I against South Africa Women in Surat last month.
Verma's first knock came at the right time as she can now focus all her attention on getting better with each passing game rather than trying to prove herself as an out-and-out striker.
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She wasn't done with her performance as she returned to score 69 runs off 35 balls to continue from where she left in the last game and helped India win the second T20I by 10 wickets. India's T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur stated her satisfaction on Verma's innings' and explained that they had been working on the opening pair for quite a while. Speaking to the media, Kaur said:
"We worked hard on our opening pair... We did well today, especially Shafali Verma because is young and she is giving so much contribution to the team [already], playing like a senior player. Smriti Mandhana also played really well, both of their contribution played a big role for us [today]."
The 143-run record stands between Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma broke Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues' fourth-wicket stand of 134 runs against New Zealand Women exactly one year back on November 9, 2018.