Born on 28th January 2004 in the Northern Indian state of Haryana, Shafali Varma's success story is a perfect story of how one can overcome cliches and carve out a career for herself despite all the odds stacked against her.
A fearless opening batter, whose sole mantra is to hit the cricket ball as hard as she can, Shafali is the youngest player to represent the Indian women's cricket team in T20I cricket. She made her debut at 15 years & 239 days against South Africa in September 2019.
In 2021, Shafali became the youngest Indian cricketer- male or female- to represent the nation in all three formats of the game. An all-format opener, Shafali has thus far represented the Women in Blue in 2 Tests, 21 ODIs and 56 T20Is, besides leading the U19 team to World Cup glory in 2022.
As is the case with budding female athletes, Shafali met with a lot of resistance from the society during her formative years.
Shafali got hooked to the sport when she witnessed the legendary Sachin Tendulkar bat in a Ranji Trophy fixture in Lahli in 2013. Shafali was just 9 years old at the time.
But, the mere sight of watching the 'God of Cricket' go about his business sparked a fire within her, and thus started her relentless pursuit of donning the Indian colours.
Of course, it was a bumpy road for young Shafali. She was rejected by every single academy. However, it did not deter her confidence. The young girl managed to find a way out of it.
What did she do? She decided to get a boy's haircut.
Shafali's pursuit finally paid dividends at the Ram Narain Academy, where coach Ashwini Kumar spotted and honed her outrageous talent.
“The girls were no match for her. So I started playing her with the U19 boys. She used to take the U19 bowlers to the cleaners.” Ashwani Kumar told Times of India.
Shafali's moment of reckoning came in 2018, when she smashed a hair-raising 128 (off 56 deliveries) in a domestic tournament.
Her breakthrough moment came when she was selected to play for 'Velocity' in the Women's T20 Challenge, where she earned plaudits from established foreign cricketers like Dani Wyatt.
On 24th September 2019, Shafali Varma scripted history when she became the youngest Indian (15 years & 239 days) to make her debut in Women's T20 Cricket- vs South Africa.
Two years later, she made her ODI debut against England before finally earning the Test cap (also against England) to become the youngest to represent India- men or women- in all three formats of the game.
Shafali Varma rose to glory in November 2019, when she broke her idol Sachin Tendulkar's record to become the youngest to smash a half-century- 73 off 49 balls- in a T20I game against the West Indies in St Lucia.
Varma finished with 158 runs in 5 matches, and was subsequently added to India's squad for the Women's T20 World Cup, which took place in Australia in February 2020.
Shafali went in the tournament as the No.1 ranked T20I batter, and came out with her reputation enhanced as she finished as India's leading run-getter- 163 runs in 5 innings @ 32.60/156.29.
Varma's stock kept rising and, in June 2021, she was handed her maiden Test cap. The young Haryana cricketer showcased that she isn't just a T20 specialist in her maiden Test innings as she scored a typically entertaining 96 (152) before following it up with another 50+ score in the 2nd innings.
Later that month, Shafali became India's 131st Women ODI cricketer, and also the youngest to represent India in all three formats.
In October 2022, Varma became the youngest to smash 1000 T20 runs in women's cricket and later in January 2023, she led the U19 team to World Cup glory in the inaugural Women's U19 event.
Shafali has represented teams like Velocity (2018-22), Sydney Sixers (2021/22) and the Birmingham Phoenix (2021) in different leagues around the world.
In February 2023, the swashbuckling Indian opener was picked up by Delhi Capitals Women for INR 2 Crores.
Youngest Indian women cricketer to play a T20I.
Youngest Indian cricketer- male or female- to represent India in all three formats.
Youngest Indian- male or female- to score a half-century in international cricket.
Youngest women cricketer to score 1000 T20I runs.
Inaugural U19 Women's World Cup winning captain.
Fastest 50 (off 19 deliveries vs RCB-W) by an Indian in WPL history.