Mithali Raj: 'Shafali Verma can be the opener India are looking for'

Shafali, who replaced the recently retired Mithali in the T20 squad, earned her maiden call-up for the T20 series against South Africa.

Mumbai: India's ODI captain Mithali Raj on Thursday lavished praise on 15-year-old Shafali Verma and said the aggressive opener can serve the women's team for a long time with proper grooming and exposure.

"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 told PTI.

Shafali, who replaced the recently retired Mithali in the T20 squad, earned her maiden call-up for the ongoing T20 series against South Africa. Though India won the opening game in Surat, Shafali was dismissed for a duck.

Mithali was speaking after announcing the second ‘Skechers Performance Mumbai Walkathon at a press conference here. The Marathon will be held on November 24 in suburban Malad.

She 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 and 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 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.

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