India opener Shafali Verma on Sunday batted her maiden half century in the first T20 Internationals against West Indies in St. Lucia. She made 73 runs in 49 balls, propelling the team’s total at 185/4 in 20 overs.
At 15 years and 285 days of age on the night of November 10, Shafali became the youngest Indian to score a half century in international cricket. The previous such record was made by former captain of Indian national team, Sachin Tendulkar, in 1989. He was 16 years and 214 days old, playing against Pakistan in his first Test series when he secured the first international half century.
With this feat, Shafali also becomes the second youngest women to score a T20I half century after UAE’s K Egodage, who was 15 years and 267 days when she hit the milestone. The Haryana native also surpassed Rohit Sharma to become the youngest Indian to score a T20I fifty.
Shafali who has been in the audience cheering for Sachin before is also the youngest woman to play in T20 Internationals. Her inclusion in T20I came after Mithali Raj resigned from T20Is to focus on 2021 One Day World Cup.
In October, Shafali hit 46 off 33 balls leading India to a 2-0 win in the series against the Proteas, during the India vs South Africa series. However, the struggle to get to this position has not been an easy task for the talented batswoman.
Her father, Sanjeev Verma, earlier disclosed that Shafali had to disguise as a boy to ensure she could regularly train. The local teams in their neighbourhood would not play with girls, stating girls get hurt and complain.
Sanjeev who was a jewellery maker then resorted to cutting Shafali’s hair short to look like a boy so that his daughter could play on weekends. Additionally, cricket coaching academies did not accept girl candidates in their native Rohtak district in Haryana. Finally, when she got admitted in one, Shafali had to cycle for 8km every day.
Even then, relatives and neighbours of the Verma family frowned upon letting her play the sport. However, the cricketer proved her worth by being part of Haryana Under-19 Women team and BCCI-U19 Women’s Cricket League Tournament to breaking the 30-year-old record of her own idol in international cricket.