Shafali Verma, the number one T20I batter in the world, will reportedly play for Birmingham Phoenix in the inaugural edition of The Hundred after successfully obtaining a NOC from the BCCI. Should the report be accurate, Shafali will be the fifth Indian to feature in The Hundred’s inaugural season.
The inaugural edition of ‘The Hundred’ is shaping up to be an extremely enticing prospect for fans of Indian cricket as Shafali Verma will now reportedly join Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma and Smriti Mandhana as the fifth Indian player in the competition. Shafali, the number one T20I batter in the world, has to date not played franchise cricket outside India, but ANI has reported that the 17-year-old wonderkid will be representing Birmingham Phoenix in the inaugural edition of the competition. Birmingham are captained by New Zealand’s Sophie Devine, and the franchise also boasts the likes of Ashleigh Gardner and Ellyse Perry.
"It is a delightful news not just for Shafali but for Indian women's cricket that there will be five Indian players in the inaugural edition of The Hundred. She will re-unite with her Sydney Sixers coach Ben Sawyer and the experience should help her grow further in what has already been a very positive road forward for the youngster," a source in the know told ANI.
Shafali last played cricket in the T20 series against South Africa, and enjoyed enormous success in the series, accumulating scores of 60, 47 and 23, and the youngster attributed her success to the time she spent with the Haryana Men’s cricket team. Shafali revealed that, ahead of SMAT 2021, she spent time batting in the nets against the likes of Mohit Sharma and Ashish Hooda, and added that the high-quality practice helped her to make better decisions with the bat in the South Africa T20Is.
"The reason behind the fast foot movement is the time I spent with the Haryana men's team ahead of the Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. I cannot thank the Haryana Cricket Association enough for allowing me to train with the team. What it did was that it helped my decision-making power at the crease as I was facing fast bowlers who were touching close to the 140kph mark. So, I had that extra second to decide if I wanted to go back or play off the front foot when I played the T20I series," she told ANI.
"We had some top-quality bowlers in Mohit Sharma, Ashish Hooda, Ajeet Chahal, Sanjay Pahal and Aman Kumar among others."
The 17-year-old, who is widely regarded as a generational talent, also revealed that she worked on her fitness, and thanked the Haryana Cricket Association (HCA) for providing her with all the necessary facilities to train.
"Yes, I did work on my fitness during the time away from the game due to lockdown. Here too, cannot thank the HCA enough. Every player was catered to individually. Our needs were looked into and even for things like dumbbells, HCA ensured every player had equipment to train. At the top level, you need to be fit to perform.”