All eyes on hard-hitter Shafali ahead of India women's one-off Test

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Bristol, June 15 : Young opener Shafali Verma could make her Test debut in the one-off Test between India women and England women that commences on Wednesday. The 17-year-old Rohtak girl is one of the hardest hitters of a cricket ball in women's cricket but is yet to play an ODI or a Test match. While not having played a Test is understandable since India have not played one in close to seven years, her absence from the ODI squad in the recent home series against South Africa raised quite a few eyebrows. Asked if Shafali will play the Test, team vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur had on Monday refused to confirm but said that they are backing her to play her natural game. "Shafali is someone we always want to play. She is someone who can dominate the opposition," Harmanpreet had told media and added that the youngster looked good in the nets. "We never tried to tinker with Shafali's game as she is a natural player, it's not a great idea to talk too much about technique and game planning with her," she had added. "All of us are trying to create a very nice situation for her so that she does not feel the pressure and enjoys her cricket. She was looking great in the nets, and I hope, if she gets a chance to play, she will do better." Shafali has scored 617 runs in 22 T20 Internationals at a high strike rate of 148.31. Like former India opener Virender Sehwag, she can unnerve the opposition, put them on the defensive with a big knock. However, if the ball moves, it could be challenging for her. On Monday, England vice-captain Natalie Sciver had said that the England team is wary of the fearless young cricketers in Indian camp. "They are an ever-growing side," Sciver was quoted as saying by espncricinfo.com. "There is always a new, young talent on the team who is not afraid to go out there and show what they have got. They seem to be more fearless than I have seen before," said Sciver. "Couple that with a lot of experience in their team -- with Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami -- they can be a very difficult side to beat. Hopefully in England, in our conditions, we can hone our skills and make sure that we're doing the right things," added Sciver. Shafali's father Sanjeev, whose training helped her develop hard-hitting skills, said he is keeping fingers crossed. /IANS




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