15-year-old Shafali Verma earned her maiden call-up for South Africa T20I series after veteran batswoman Mithali Raj decided to hang her boots from the shortest format of the game. Rated highly for her skills and aggressive style of play, Shafali has made a name for herself in the circuit and has also impressed India’s ODI captain Mithali who lavished praise on the young batting sensation. Mithali feels the aggressive opener can serve the women’s team for a long time with proper grooming and exposure. Despite a forgettable debut for India during 1st T20I vs SA, Mithali believes Shafali has a bright future ahead of her. India won the opening game in Surat but Shafali failed to impress as she was dismissed for a duck.

In February this year, Verma scored 128 off 56 balls, the third-highest score in women’s T20, for Haryana against Nagaland in the Indian Senior T20 competition. “I seriously think that she (Shafali) is a talented youngster. And given the right kind of exposure and mentored properly, she can be the future player for India,” Mithali was quoted by PTI.

Mithali also said that she wants her ODI side to do well in the upcoming three-match ODI series against South Africa though it is not part of the ICC Championship. The ODI series will be played after the ongoing five-match T20 series.

“Though we don’t have the ICC Championship points, I want the ODI side to do well (in the series against South Africa), it gives exposure to the young players in the team as well as match exposure for us before the West Indies tour,” said Mithali.

Now that Mithali will be only playing one format, she feels that she has more time to work on her fitness.

“I have more time to work as a player on my skill on my fitness. I can give more importance to exclusively train on my strength and fitness sessions, which can help me come fresh for the ODI series,” added Mithali.

Mithali also explained her fitness routine. “My fitness routine consists of running, strength and of course walking, because at times when we don’t have access to facilities, the simplest thing to do is to walk for 30-45 minutes, because in way it helps to decrease the stiffness or tightness that an athlete develops through strenuous days of play or after a long flight,” she signed off.