India ‘keeper Sushma Verma proves mettle in Women’s World Cup win over Pakistan | cricket | Hindustan Times
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India ‘keeper Sushma Verma proves mettle in Women’s World Cup win over Pakistan

On Sunday, India women’s national cricket team defeated Pakistan for the 10th consecutive time in ODI cricket with a convincing win in the ICC Women’s World Cup. Sushma Verma’s knock was instrumental to that victory.

cricket Updated: Jul 03, 2017 23:00 IST
Shalini Gupta
Sushma Verma bats during India’s ICC Women's World Cup 2017 fixture against Pakistan. India would go on to win the game by 95 runs.
Sushma Verma bats during India’s ICC Women's World Cup 2017 fixture against Pakistan. India would go on to win the game by 95 runs. (AP)

On the eve of the ICC Women’s World Cup, an upset Sushma Verma was in Dharamsala to meet her coach Pawan Sen. Since making her India debut in 2014, Sushma hadn’t done wonders with the bat but felt she had not been given enough opportunities, slotted as she was down the batting order.

Sen had a simple solution: “Forget the past and start from scratch.”

On Sunday in Derby, the India wicketkeeper played the best knock of her career, a vital effort to set up the victory over Pakistan. Promoted to No 7, the 24-year-old scored a 35-ball 33 and raised a crucial 34-run stand with Jhulan Goswami to help India recover from 111/6 to 169/9.

READ | ICC Women’s World Cup: Mithali Raj praises lower order batsmen for Pakistan win

India went on to beat Pakistan by 95 runs, their third win on the trot.

Desperate for a chance

“Sushma was batting at No 9 and 10. She was feeling unused. The fact that she was not able to show her batting skills shook her confidence. At one stage, it also reflected on her keeping. Then we planned her training, which included batting in the nets for long hours. By end of it, she was hungry to go to England and do well with the bat. Against Pakistan, Sushma played like a champion and bailed out the team,” Sen, who has trained Sushma since her junior days at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Residential Academy in Dharamsala, told HT.

The player from Shimla became the first woman cricketer from the state to play for India in 2014. However, until the tie against Pakistan, she had got to bat just eight times in 22 ODIs, facing just 56 deliveries and scoring 13 runs.

READ | Here’s how the Indian women’s cricket team is inspiring Virat Kohli & Co

Skipper Mithali Raj acknowledged Sushma Verma’s knock after the win over Pakistan. “On a few occasions in domestic cricket, when our Central Zone side was in similar situation, she bailed us out. We expected her to play that role and she did until the 48th over. Those boundaries were also very crucial.”

Sushma hit three fours and the only six of the innings.

Life of the party

However, Sushma is a livewire on and off the field. She has showed her athleticism as a wicketkeeper in the Women’s World Cup. Off the field, she loves to joke and takes on the role of team photographer and videographer. “Sushma is our selfie expert. When she is around, we don’t take out our phones to click pictures or make videos. She captures the moments very well. Whether the team is travelling in a bus to the venue or taking celebratory pictures, Sushma is the girl,” Harmanpreet Kaur had told HT recently.

The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association has named a dressing room after her in the newly-built Gumma Stadium in Shimla. “Her achievement is an inspiration for other aspiring women cricketers of our region. Due to her, so many from remote areas have taken up the game. I hope she is moved up the batting order after her knock against Pakistan. It’s time to make India proud,” said Sen.

READ | ICC Women’s World Cup: Ekta Bisht’s 5/18 proves to be India’s trump card

An Adam Gilchrist fan, Sushma played volleyball and handball at school but made the switch after HPCA started an academy in Dharamsala. The Indian team has another wicketkeeper in young Nuzhat Parween, who has better reputation with the bat, but will have to wait for her turn.

India take on Sri Lanka in their next match on July 5.