U-19 Women’s T20 World Cup: India hope for Shweta Sehrawat’s final flourish | Cricket - Hindustan Times

U-19 Women’s T20 World Cup: India hope for Shweta Sehrawat’s final flourish

By, Chandigarh
Jan 28, 2023 09:47 PM IST

Shafali Verma’s team faces England in the final at Pochefstroom on Sunday, bidding to become India’s first women’s World Cup champs

India are a step away from being crowned world champions. Winning the women’s T20 U-19 World Cup final against England at Pochefstroom, South Africa on Sunday will only help Indian women's cricket find fresh momentum, especially as the Women's Premier League (WPL) awaits its launch.

Shweta Sehrawat(Twitter)
Shweta Sehrawat(Twitter)

And all eyes on Sunday will be on India's prolific opener Shweta Sehrawat, who leads the tournament aggregate with 292 runs in six innings at a staggering average of 146.00 (3x50s, S/R 141.06, HS: 92*). And she has been dismissed just twice.

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Shafali Verma, the senior India player leading at the junior World Cup, was all praise for her opening partner. “She has been in sublime form. The way she has played her shots during her various innings speaks about her talent. She has been impressive throughout; we are hoping her form and confidence stay intact in the final as well.

“Shweta bats to her strength and her mind is always very clear, how she wants to go about each innings.” She slammed a 45-ball 61 to help beat New Zealand in the semi-final on Friday. Shweta’s scores now read 92, 74, 31, 21, 13, 61.

The player from Delhi took up cricket when she was 12. Until then she used to be a regular at the Sonnet Cricket Club, but only to accompany her elder sister Swati for training. While Swati quit in a few months, Shweta joined the SM Cricket Academy at Jesus & Mary College under coach Amanjeet Singh Dhillon.

“She was a wicketkeeper-batter when she started. With time, she became a batter and off-break bowler. She was an excellent fielder and that is why she was told to bowl. She was an instant hit. She was exposed to boys bowling at her in the nets. Since then she has been trained not to give away her wicket easily and bat till the end of the innings,” Amanjeet said.

Shweta’s World Cup success must have impressed not just the national selectors but the five franchises of the upcoming Women’s Premier League.

She and Shafali have combined at the top to help India dominate the tournament, having lost only to Australia.

“She has clearly been a star for India. She could become the most sought after batter, but her focus is to do well in the U-19 World Cup and help India win the trophy. The spinners have backed the batters well,” her coach said.

Sent in at No 6 against Scotland, Shweta still hit a 10-ball 31*, showcasing her ability to play the aerial shots as well.

Spinners Mannat Kashyap, Parshavi Chopra, Archana Devi, Sonam Yadav and Shafali have impressed. Leg-spinner Parshavi, who trains at the Yuvraj Singh academy in Noida, has been the pick of them, along with off-spinner Archana and left-arm spinner Mannat.

“Losing against Australia was disappointing. We were nervous we may not reach the semis but once we knew we could be in the last four beating Sri Lanka, we did strongly in the next game. All the girls are enjoying and coach Nooshin-Al-Khadeer is making sure we are at ease and also focused,” added Shafali.

Triumph at the inaugural youth World Cup could start a great run for Indian women’s cricket with the WPL being launched in March too expected to transform the game. India women have reached World Cup finals thrice (ODI-2005, 2017) and (T20-2020), but never won.

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    Shalini Gupta is a member of the Chandigarh sports team and has been a sports journalist for 10 years. She mainly writes on cricket.

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