Indian batter Shafali Verma has been encouraged by her fast start to life in the WBBL, her Sydney Sixers teammates a beacon of support for the youngster.
In her debut season of the competition, Verma has joined a team that boasts plenty of international talent and experience, namely veteran Australian duo Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy.
One of eight Indians to bring their services to the WBBL, Verma chose to represent the Sixers – along with bowler Radha Yadav -, inspired by the plethora of chances to learn and build her own game.
Learning from senior members of the team, and playing in and against an international-level standard of competition, as evidenced in the recent Multi-Format series against Australia has helped shape the teenager into a greater player.
“[It] is [a] very good opportunity for me to come into [the] WBBL and [it’s] good learning with our senior players,” Verma told media on Tuesday.
“Australia, [they’re] a very good women’s team so I was always enjoying playing against Australia. That is so good, learning because the girls are very good like Meg Lanning, Healy, so I always think to learn from them.
“There’s always things to just learn myself and increase it outside the field [as well]. I’ll just always enjoy myself and just always learn from the girls.
“My aim is [to] just learn… every innings and just enjoy myself and just learn from the bigger cricketers like [Alyssa] Healy [and Ellyse] Perry.”
So far, the Sixers have won both their games of WBBL|07 – a six-wicket win over the Stars and a five-wicket win over the Hurricanes – and prepare for tomorrow afternoon’s fixture, again facing the Stars.
For Verma’s own form this tournament, after a score of 8 off 10 in the side’s first game, she claimed Player of the Match honours in the win against Hobart, scoring 57 off 50 to guide her team home.
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Only 17 years old, the opener made her international T20 debut in September 2019 against South Africa and has played another 27 for her country.
Since then, along with six One-Day Internationals and two Test matches, the latest of which were the Multi-Format series matches against Australia throughout the past month.
Having had limited opportunities to play women’s cricket in India growing up, and with Sachin Tendulkar as her inspiration, Verma was forced to compete alongside the boys at a local level.
In order to gain vital game experience which would lead to further options to play at the highest level down the track when she was able to, Verma saw this as an opportunity and decision that has made her into the cricketer she is today.
“So that [was] so difficult in the start, to play with the boys. My father said that is a good opportunity, for you to play with the boys so I just backed myself,” she confessed.
“Playing with the boys… that is gonna help with the girls when I was playing with the girls so that is a good opportunity for me and I’m playing here, naturally because of that practice.”
It’s the consistent backing, direction, and dedication of her family in India to help had Verma believing she could continue to perform well against the best. She is constantly impressed with the level of talent in the women’s game and ways she can improve from watching others, especially at the Sixers going forward.
“My father, he’s always just, in the morning, [at] midnight, when I would just ask him to practice with me, he would just wake up and just go with me for the practice. That is so good like, so good back from my family members so thanks to them.”
“[At Sydney], teammates are backing me, our coaches, our staff members, [so I] just back myself and I’m just enjoying it.
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