Star Indian batter Shafali Verma has revealed that she improved her back-foot game after facing Ranji bowlers, who were bowling at 140kph, during a camp with Haryana men's team. She also added that ever since the World T20, last year, she's been working on her skills, and fitness extensively.
India women's team might have taken a beating at the hands of the South African side in both the ODI and T20I series earlier, but Shafali Verma had shone through in the T20Is. With scores of 23, 47, and 60 in the T20I series, the young batter had bolstered her reputation and also made it evident that the Indian selectors were wrong when they overlooked her from the ODIs, despite her remarkable performances in the WT20 last year.
Verma's rise has been the result of her relentless hard work and the ability to never stop learning as she believes in improving herself in every which way. Earlier this year, the teen sensation was part of the Haryana men's team camp ahead of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. The Indian opener learnt a fair bit from the experience where she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Harshal Patel, Mohit Sharma and Rahul Tewatia.
"I feel that I benefited a great deal from that Ranji camp. My back-foot game was a bit weak earlier, but facing the Ranji bowlers, who would come in at around 140kph, has helped better my technique and confidence on that front," Shafali Verma told ESPN Cricinfo.
"I interacted with Harshal [Patel], who recently played in the IPL, Mohit [Sharma] bhaiya, Rahul Tewatia, and picked their brains about dealing with the bouncer. They shared their inputs with me and so did their coach. He gave me his feedback on my batting. I'm very grateful to everyone at the Haryana Cricket Association for the opportunity."
Not only that, ahead of the T20I series against South Africa, she had done the hard yards to get better at playing the bouncers, which was evident in the series too.
"If you try to get better at something and get complacent after trying just once, it never works out. I chalked out a plan and played 150 balls [bouncers] at a time, then rested for a bit and faced more bouncers. I focused on practising the same thing over and over again."
Right after last year's WT20, where she starred for India, the 17-years-old has been working hard on various aspects of her game so as to excel at the highest level consistently.
"My target has been to take lessons from every series and keep improving as a cricketer. After the T20 World Cup I worked on my skills, fitness, and choosing the right deliveries to play. I felt I did better there in the South Africa series. I could sense some improvement in my fielding as I had focused on working out and strengthening my body during last year's lockdown."
"I want to remain fit. That's my primary goal, because if I'm fit, I can carve out a long career for myself. And to simulate skiddy conditions [overseas], I have been training with wet synthetic balls, to allow them to skid more.
Besides working on herself, Shafali is also open to learning from various sources like the IPL or her fellow players.
"I watched the IPL as well. One gets to learn a lot observing and watching the IPL players, their shot selection, especially."
"Whenever I don't play a shot well, Smriti [Mandhana, her opening partner] points out the mistake and suggests how I could have approached the ball better, say, by timing it better or something else. She gives me sound feedback. We discuss a lot about what we think of each other's batting."