India's swashbuckling opener Shafali Verma has once again left the world in awe with her batting in the recently-concluded T20I series against South Africa. But she didn't earn the call-up in the ODI team and that somehow cost them the game as India lost the ODI series 1-4 against the same opponent.
She scored 23, 47 and 60 in the three T20Is, hitting sixes with ease and showing what India was needed in the 50-over series as well. Though India lost the T20I series 1-2, her 30-ball 60 in the last T20I helped India registered a consolation win.
"It struck me, if I was not selected in the ODI team there must have been some scope for improvement. I was a bit disappointed, but I knew I would get a chance in the T20s and focused on that. I was itching to go out there and translate one year of hard work and preparation into good performance. While the ODIs were happening, I was with the team, training and learning different aspects of the game from the sidelines," said Verma to Hindustan Times in an exclusive chat.
“I worked very hard on my skills, physical and mental, after the T20 World Cup last year. There was not much cricket in the calendar, domestic or international. Also, the World Cup defeat was stuck in my mind. The Haryana Cricket Association (HCA) really looked after me. I held discussions with my coach Ashwini Kumar and told him what I wanted to work on. The association gave me a physiologist and a nutritionist. I was working on my mental and physical well-being, apart from rigorous training in the nets. Counselling sessions helped get over the World Cup loss,” said Shafali Verma, who ranked No. 1 in the ICC T20 rankings after the series as well.
However, this series was India's first international series after a year as they had last featured in the T20 World Cup final in Australia last year. As far as the domestic series is concerned, they took part in the Women's T20 challenge that included four matches during the playoffs of IPL 2020 in the UAE.
Meanwhile, Shafali Verma faced some issues in fitness too and worked hard as well. She lost six kilos and batted for hours daily at the Shri Ram Narain Cricket Club in Rohtak where she used to face male pacers bowling upwards of 135 kph. This has certainly helped the youngster. However, she revealed that she is no longer into fast food and Doraemon cartoons and also follows a strict diet regime as well.
“I miss my pizza and Doraemon. Now my diet includes more vegetables. I did not know much about these things before. But when you play at the international level, you learn a lot from your seniors and the fitness trainers constantly work on your bodies. I found it very easy to score against South Africa because I had come with ideal preparation. My focus is on cricket at the moment,” said the youngster.
“When you are playing 50-overs game, you have to stay at the wicket longer and build a big innings to have an impact. When I am playing T20s, the coach and captain give me the freedom to go after the bowlers and stick to my natural game. In ODIs, I want to apply myself to stay at the wicket for as many overs as possible and build a long innings. I am not thinking of the World Cup at the moment, but I want to cement my place in the ODIs as well,” she concluded.
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