ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020
Haynes wary of Verma 'X-factor'
Veteran Aussie impressed by India's teenage prodigy as excitement for World Cup opener builds
13 January 2020, 07:44 PM AEST
Australia vice-captain Rachael Haynes has joined the chorus of voices speaking in awe of 15-year-old Indian batting prodigy Shafali Verma who is expected to front up against Australia in the much anticipated ICC T20 World Cup opening match.
Verma's name was thrust into lights when she broke Sachin Tendulkar's record to become the youngest Indian to score an international half-century in November, and has since lived up to the hype.
Part of the India 'A' squad that recently toured Australia, the powerful opening batter proved more than capable of performing in Australian conditions, striking an impressive 124 from 78 deliveries in the first one-dayer against Australia A.
Speaking at Sydney Showgrounds, where the opening clash is set to be held on February 21, Haynes is confident her team can piece together a plan for Verma's firepower.
"I watched her on the Gold Coast during the A series, she's a player with a bit of X factor, she's a clean striker of the ball," Haynes said.
"We'll sit down and have a look at her. It was nice in some respects that we got to see her play over in Australia, and I'm sure we'll prepare well for it."
Haynes' comments echo those of Australia A coach Leah Poulton, who was left looking on in disbelief as Verma's century led India A to their first and only victory against Australia A.
"She's just an amazing talent, she's only 15 years old and she's got so much power," Poulton told cricket.com.au at the conclusion of the series.
"We'd seen a bit of footage leading in, she's played a bit of cricket for India.
"But when you watch footage of a player like that, it probably doesn't do it justice because she's actually got a really good presence at the crease.
"Even though she's 15, she's a tall girl, strong girl as well … when she walked out to bat, I thought, 'that can't be the 15-year-old'."
India currently sit third on the ICC T20I Rankings behind Australia and England and recently completed a comprehensive 4-1 victory in a T20I series against the West Indies in the Caribbean.
Verma was among the standouts for India, compiling scores of 73 and 69no.
"They've got a really strong team, they're one of the best in the world at this format," Haynes said.
"They're going to be a really formidable opponent, a team who we're going to prepare really well to play against, but I think our team is well and truly looking forward to the challenge."
Harmanpreet Kaur is set to captain India's T20 World Cup squad, with fellow destructive top order bat Smriti Mandhana named her deputy.
Before the World Cup gets underway, Australia will come up against India for the first time on February 2 when the sides face off at Manuka Oval in the CommBank T20I Tri-Series that also includes England.
India T20 World Cup squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harleen Deol, Veda Krishnamurthy, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Deepti Sharma, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Poonam Yadav, Radha Yadav, Arundhati Reddy, Rajeshwari Gaekwad, Richa Ghosh