“Dhyaan rakhna, apna 100 percent dena, teek hai,” was what Shafali Verma had to say to the girls before the start of the clash.
Having won the toss, Shafali did not let the advantage slip in the favour of the English U-19 side with the decision to bowl. It was perhaps one of the biggest decisions in the youngster’s life but at the end of the day, it was probably the most important win of the night.
Indian pacers were on point, and made England batters dance to their tunes. Opening bowlers - Titas Sadhu and Archana Devi – did the early damage for the young Indian side, removing the English top-order, reducing them to a paltry total of 22/4, after just six overs.
While English skipper, Grace Scrivens walked back for just four, the others Liberty Heap (0), Niamh Holland (10) and Seren Smale (3) all made very small contributions, and were jolted by a great show from the Indian bowlers.
With a powerplay like that, it would require more than a herculean effort from the rest of the batting unit if they had to put up a good total. The partnership between Ryana Gay (19) and Alexa Stonehouse (11) gave England a glimmer of hope but a strong bowling display from the likes of Parshavi Chopra and Sonam Yadav ensured that they were bundled out for just 68.
It wasn’t the first time that England’s batting unit had faltered under pressure, having failed to score 100 even in their previous fixture, against Australia. But back then in that game, it was their bowlers who had the final laugh, defending a paltry total. But here, the challenge was a completely different beast, in the form of rampant India.
While skipper and opener, Shafali gave India the much-needed head start, England sensed a way when they dismissed Shweta Sehrawat for just 5, with the score reading 20/2. But the partnership between Soumya Tiwari (24) and Gongadi Trisha (24) was enough to take the youngsters over the line, winning the inaugural edition of the U-19 Women’s T20 World Cup.
“From the National anthem and till the time we won we had goosebumps. I personally realize and understand how special this is for us. To live it from the young girls it's commendable. We have been waiting very long for a cup. We have a good future back in India. God has been kind and I'm keeping it simple,” India’s head coach, Nooshin Al Khadeer had to say on the performance from the young team.
“The way all the girls are performing and backing each other, so happy. Incredible feeling. Thanks to the staff, the way they have been backing us everyday and telling us that we are here for the cup and because of them we are here. All thanks to them. The players have been backing me a lot,” Shafali had to say at the post-match presentation.
It was India’s first title in women’s cricket, with the senior team having reached a final but in vain, back in 2020 against Australia in the 20-over format, where co-incidentally Shafali too was part of the side.
“Thanks to BCCI for giving me this beautiful team and really happy for winning the cup. She (Shweta Sehrawat) has been excellent and has followed all the plans from the staff. Not just her, Archana, Soumya and I can't really take the names but they all have been incredible. No, definitely not (when asked if this is the only Cup she's gonna pick up this season in South Africa),” she had to add.