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Friday, Dec 13, 2019

Shafali Verma’s father reveals India’s youngest T20I debutant had to disguise herself as a boy in Rohtak

Shafali was picked into the Indian T20I squad following her performance in the Women’s T20 challenge earlier this year.

cricket Updated: Oct 03, 2019 21:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
File image of Shafali Verma in action during a T20 game.
File image of Shafali Verma in action during a T20 game.(IPL Twitter)
         

15-year-old India opener Shafali Verma is the talk of the town today because of her exploits on the field but things weren’t always in her favour. Shafali, who recently became the youngest T20I debutant for India during the first game against South Africa, had to go though several hardships before she could don the blue of India. According to her father Sanjeev Verma, Shafali had to disguise herself as a boy to get admission into a cricket academy as there was no such place for girls to train in her home town of Rohtak. She had to sport boys’ haircut to enjoy the facilities of the academy.

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“No one was ready to induct her in any academy because there was not a single one for girls in Rohtak. I literally begged them to give her a chance but in vain,” Sanjeev told TOI.

“I knocked on the doors of a lot of cricket academies but all I got was rejection. I decided to cut her hair, and took her to one of the academies and got her enrolled there as a boy.

“I was scared but no one noticed. Nau saal ke umar mein saare bachche ek jaise hi lagte hain (At the age of nine, every kid looks the same),” he added.

Shafali was picked into the Indian T20I squad following her performance in the Women’s T20 challenge earlier this year. She played under the leadership of veteran Mithali Raj for Team Velocity in the women’s T20 challenge. She was dismissed for a four-ball duck on her debut in the opening match but went on to play a match-winning knock in the fourth T20I.

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“It is a nice feeling when you that your child is representing India. She used to play with a tennis ball during her initial days, I did not much about the sport. Her father has always been a huge supporter of cricket. We had many hindrances as our neighbours also used to comment on letting our girl play cricket,” Parveen Verma, mother of Shafali told ANI.

“When she used to play, no one took her in any academy after seeing she’s a girl. Her father gave the idea of cutting her hair short. She went into the academy and was included as people thought she’s a boy,” she added.