15-year-old Shafali Verma earns national team call-up

In good news for 15-year-old Shafali Verma, she earned a maiden call-up to the Indian national women’s T20I squad. She was rewarded for excellent performances in the Women’s T20 Challenge in May and she will be literally pleased with the new challenge. One more teenager, 19-year-old all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar, has also been recalled to the team which will be captained by Harmanpreet Kaur.

15-year-old Shafali Verma earns national team call-up

India’s T20I squad for the first 3 matches of the five-match series against South Africa, starts from September 24 in Surat. Shafali, Pooja, and Harleen Deol earned the call-ups and the selectors seem to be opening the doors for the youth as they replaced the likes of Ekta Bisht, Komal Zanzad, and Mithali Raj.

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The uncapped right-handed batswoman Shafali, who has never played the game at a senior-most level, was among the brightest players in the T20 tourney in May. She grabbed attention of Dani Wyatt, her teammate at Velocity, with her sensational ability to strike the balls quite cleanly at the top of the innings.

This came after a blockbuster set of performances in the domestic T20 scene with Haryana during the 2018-19 senior women’s inter-state T20 tournament. She scored 186 runs in 6 innings at a strike rate in excess of 185, including a tournament-high 128 off just 56 deliveries against Nagaland.

Meanwhile, Pooja, who made her debut in June 2018, is making a return to the team after missing out on the Women’s World T20 last year through injury. The seam-bowling all-rounder has an impressive strike rate of 137.09 and has bagged 12 wickets in 11 T20Is.

It is also expected that she will partner one of either Shikha Pandey and Arundathi Reddy in India’s seam bowling attack, while Mansi Joshi’s comeback to the squad offers new dimension as well. The options in the spin department remain the same from the series defeat against England, with the lone addition being the captain Kaur who skipped that series.

Harmanpreet Kaur also comes to the ODI set up as vice-captain under Mithali Raj’s captaincy, for the 3-match ODI series, which starts from October 9 in Vadodara. Mona Meshram has been dropped in the wake of poor performances against England and also during India’s sub-par Asia Cup campaign in 2018.

So, Tamil Nadu’s Dayalan Hemalatha has been called in as a replacement in the squad, while Deol and Veda Krishnamurthy have also been excluded. Taniya Bhatia is the wicketkeeper in both the team squads.

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