Tuesday, June 25, 2024

ICC: Verma – I am ready for any situation

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Photo Credit: ICC

Teenage India star Shafali Verma has regained her confidence after being dropped during the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 and says she is now ready for anything as her side look to reach the semi-finals.

India take on South Africa tomorrow with the Proteas’ place in the knockout stages already confirmed, but India need a win to ensure they will join them in the last four. 

The Women in Blue currently sit fifth, outside the qualification spots on net run rate behind England but with their fate in their own hands as they know avoiding defeat against South Africa would move them above the West Indies and into the semi-finals.

India can even afford to lose and still progress if Bangladesh beat England earlier in the day. 

Verma was dropped from the India XI for three games after a duck in the opening match against Pakistan but has responded with 54 runs in the two matches since her return. 

“I am always ready for any sort of situation whether I was not in the squad,” explained Verma, 18. “When I was included in the squad against Australia, I was ready for it as I always thought that I may be given a chance on any given day.” 

“The coaches were backing me when I was in the nets. Our batting coach always gave me confidence which is a very good thing.  

“He always worked on my weak and strong points. They always give confidence to our team and give us good throwdowns. 

“Our staff go to those players who are not in good nick. They sit with them and give them confidence. As a player, it gives us a boost.” 

Verma showed her confidence levels were back with a score of 42 against Bangladesh as India earned a 110-run win last time out. 

In that game, the top three of Smriti Mandhana, Verma and Yastika Bhatia all made 30 or more as India’s top order finally began to click just in time for their crunch match against South Africa. 

Verma added: “It’s a crucial game and everyone knows their role. I think everyone is ready to give 100 percent.  

“All the batters are now in form. Everyone who goes out to bat tends to build partnerships by supporting the batters at the other end as well.  

“They always tell us that whatever happens, always back each other. We want to build good partnerships in the next game as a batting unit.  

“I think our bowling unit has also improved a lot and fielding as well. I think we have improved a lot as a team.” 

While India are trending in the right direction, South Africa have experienced a dip in form after winning their opening four games. 

The Proteas suffered their first defeat of the tournament against Australia as their bowlers could not prevent the No.1-ranked side chasing down 272 to win.  

Rain then washed out their match against the West Indies but not before South Africa had been reduced to 22 for four inside six overs before recovering to add 39 more when the heavens opened.

South Africa will believe they can regain their momentum against India having beaten them 4-1 in an ODI series in 2021, with Chloe Tryon particularly looking forward to the competition between Verma and fast bowler Shabnim Ismail. 

Tryon said: “Shabnim has been fantastic for us. I love the fighting character that she is and she really just wants to take wickets and play really well all the time. 

“It’s a really good match-up. We know that she’s going to want her wicket and Shafali is going to want to get runs against us so as long as Shabnim keeps her game plan and stays nice and calm, I’m sure that can happen, but that’s going to be a really good contest to see them go about it.” 

However, Tryon was quick to clarify that South Africa will not worry too much about their opposition and instead focus on themselves with their semi-final place already assured. 

She added: “I don’t think we’ll be focusing on specific people; I think we are just looking at our game plans and how we want to bowl to them and how we want to bat against them and making sure that we’re ticking off those boxes. 

“I think if we can stick to our game plan, play the aggressive cricket that we want to and put up competitive totals and take wickets I think we can end up on top.” 

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