Shafali Verma hits out against Australia A. © Getty Images

Shafali Verma is one name in the cricket circuit that’s been doing rounds ever-since she made her international debut in September 2019. Many an opposition player have been wary of her; Rachael Haynes, Australia’s vice-captain is the latest to be in awe of her.

India is slated to play their opening match of the T20 World Cup against Australia at Sydney Showgrounds on February 21. Haynes sounded confident of devising a plan to keep Verma quiet.

“I watched her on the Gold Coast during the A series, she’s a player with a bit of X factor, she’s a clean striker of the ball,” she said. “We’ll sit down and have a look at her. It was nice in some respects that we got to see her play over in Australia, and I’m sure we’ll prepare well for it.”

Verma had hit a ton in the first one-dayer against Australia A, when she had toured there with India A earlier this month. Australia A’s coach Leah Poulton was left speechless by that innings.

“She’s just an amazing talent, she’s only 15 years old and she’s got so much power,” he told cricket.com.au at the end of the series. “We’d seen a bit of footage leading in, she’s played a bit of cricket for India. But when you watch footage of a player like that, it probably doesn’t do it justice because she’s actually got a really good presence at the crease. Even though she’s 15, she’s a tall girl, strong girl as well … when she walked out to bat, I thought, ‘that can’t be the 15-year-old’.”

India rank third in the ICC T20I rankings behind Australia and England and are one of the favourites in the T20 World Cup. Haynes seemed mindful of this when she said, “They’ve got a really strong team, they’re one of the best in the world at this format. They’re going to be a really formidable opponent, a team who we’re going to prepare really well to play against, but I think our team is well and truly looking forward to the challenge.”

India have named a strong side for the T20 World Cup, with Harmanpreet Kaur at the helm. Before the global tournament, though, India and Australia feature in a tri-series with England as the third team.

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