Indian cricketer Shafali needed boy’s haircut to play

Indian cricketer Shafali needed boy’s haircut to play

NEW DELHI: India’s 15-year-old women’s cricket sensation Shafali Verma had to get her hair cut like a boy so that she could get into the local academy to train, her father told AFP.

Now India’s cricket establishment is relying on Verma, who made her Twenty20 debut for the national team against South Africa last month and will soon go on a tour of the West Indies.The teenager has become known for her aggressive batting. But her father Sanjeev Verma told of the struggle to get her daughter accepted in games. “I introduced her to cricket when she was eight or nine. I used to take her to play neighbourhood teams on Sundays,” he said. “Most teams refused to play against her. They said that she could get hurt and that I would complain if that happened.

“Even when I insisted she was my daughter and I was okay, most didn’t agree,” said Verma, who makes jewellery in Rohtak near New Delhi.That is when he decided to give her a “boy’s haircut” to trick opponents.

“At eight or nine, all kids look the same. After the haircut, most didn’t even notice she was a girl and she started playing regularly at weekends,” he said.The father said he was never worried about seeing her play against male teams, believing it would improve her skills.

But when he tried to get professional training, he hit a new equality obstacle when academies refused to take Shefali.“Most in town refused to take a girl. I eventually found one which took boys and girls. It was eight kilometres (five miles) from our house and she used to cycle there for training each day,” the proud parent added.

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