Sachin Tendulkar's swan in Lahli 'inspired' Shafali Verma, born in Rohtak, to play for India

NEW DELHI: Five years ago, a starry eye Shafali Verma he fought through a vociferous crowd on the bland terrain of Lahli to take a look at his idol Sachin Tendulkar , the moment that inspired the then 10-year-old boy to start the game.

On Thursday, the 15-year-old was chosen to play in India.

It wasn't just another game, it was a historic occasion: Tendulkar playing his final Ranji Trophy game before his international retirement.

Jitne log Sachin Mr. ko dekhne ke liye khade the, utne hee bahar the (There were as many people outside the stadium as inside to take a look at Tendulkar). Only then did I realize how important it is to be a cricketer in India, especially when he is revered as Sachin, sir, Shafali told PTI.

I can never forget that day. My cricket trip started from there, the soft-spoken player said hours after receiving the news of her selection for the T20 series against South Africa.

One of the youngest players to be chosen for India, the rise of the first game born in Rohtak has been remarkable. She started playing the game five years ago and has already played three seasons for Haryana.

To get this far, he has spent hours training that involved flipping tires in his natal.

A hit hitter, which is the need for time for the women's T20 team in India, attracted attention for the first time with her performances in the 2018-2019 Inter-State Women's T20 tournament, where she got 128 of 56 balls against Nagaland

The selectors were convinced of his rare talent when he made 34 of 31 balls in the Women's T20 Challenge in Jaipur earlier this year against an attack that included well-known international names.

I expected this call to be honest. I had done well in national cricket and also in that great tournament in Jaipur. The recent NCA camp also went well. So, yes, I was hopeful, said Shafali, who learned the ropes at an academy in Rohtak .

Tendulkar was one of the main reasons why he took the sport, another was his father, a jeweler by profession.

My dad always loved the game, he wanted to follow it, but he couldn't do it. He thought he could fulfill his cricket dream through me. He took me to the nearby academy and I didn't look back from there. Now my five one-year-old brothers also want to play cricket. My older brother also plays, he said.

Known for her great skill, Shafali said that tennis ball cricket in her early days made her the attacking hitter she is now.

And what is your favorite shot?

Go out to the spinners and beat them for six consecutive, he said.

When asked about his favorite players in the Indian women's team, Shafali added: Mithali di ( Mithali Raj ) and Harman di ( Harmanpreet Kaur ).

I met all the players recently in the NCA. I couldn't spend time with Harman di, but Mithali di gave me confidence and told me to keep my head strong.