Shafali has licence to play fearless cricket: Shikha Pandey

Perth: Experienced pacer Shikha Pandey on Monday said the Indian team management has given Shafali Verma the license to play fearless cricket as the teen sensation produced another explosive innings to set up a comfortable win against Bangladesh in the women’s T20 World Cup here.

The 16-year-old Verma smashed a 17-ball 39, including four sixes, to steer India to 142 to six before her bowling colleagues restricted Bangladesh to 124 for 8 in their 20 overs to win the match by 18 runs.

While Verma was the star of the show, 19-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues also impressed with a measured 34 from 37, and Pandey is confident the world will be seeing more of the same from the exciting young pair in Australia. “We have not asked her (Verma) to change anything. She has been given free licence to play her fearless brand of cricket,” Pandey said. “She is amazing. At 16, I hadn’t even started training to become a cricketer. I’m very pleased to have such young fearless players in our team. It’s amazing to see them doing what they did for us.”

Pandey, who also chipped in by taking two wickets for 14 runs, said the likes of Verma has no ‘baggage’. “There’s no baggage, that’s the biggest thing, and they express themselves so well in the team,’ the 30-year-old said. “We thought we had a great score on the board to defend because we believe in our bowling department. We knew it would be a tough target for them to reach.”

Captain Harmanpreet Kaur said she was hopeful that opener Smriti Mandhana, who missed Monday’s match due to illness, will be fit for their next match against New Zealand on Thursday. “Hopefully. She is feeling better now, we do have two or three days and I hope she will recover well.”