Shafali Verma—at 16 years of age—did just that at the Junction Oval in Melbourne, during the recently concluded Tri-Nations T20 final.

Even though she was dismissed soon after, Verma’s match-winning 28-ball 49 in the previous match showed the Indian team management just what the teenage opener from Rohtak is made of. That day, openers Verma and Smriti Mandhana helped India chase down Australia’s daunting target of 173 runs, in turn overshadowing Ashleigh Gardener’s 93 off 57 balls.

Ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia, India will hope that their top order of Verma and Mandhana comes good as their tweaked middle-order has failed to deliver in the recent months. “Shafali is a great prospect for India but at the same time she has to be a bit responsible,” says former India batsman Jaya Sharma. “The fact that she is ready to take charge against quick bowlers shows how confident she is at 16.”

Sharma feels that India’s success at the World Cup hinges on the openers and No.3 Jemimah Rodrigues.

India are placed in Group A with Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. They open their World Cup campaign by taking on the hosts in Sydney on Friday.
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