Teenager Deepti Sharma is a promising all-rounder

By Kersi Meher-Homji

India won her first four matches in Women’s World Cup currently being played in England. But they lost to South Africa last night.

The only Indian to do well was teenager Deepti Sharma who scored 60 out of India’s disappointing total of 158.

She had also top-scored in the previous match against Sri Lanka by hitting a polished 78 as India won by 16 runs and she was voted Player of the Match.

But it was in the match against Pakistan last Sunday that Deepti impressed me as an outstanding off-spinner. This match had many highlights; India dismissing Pakistan for 74 runs and winning by 95 runs and Player of the Match Ekta Bisht capturing 5 for 18.

To me the high spot was Deepti Sharma’s off-spinners. She took only 1 for 21 but she looked all class. Mark my word, she will be a world class off-spinner one day soon.

I don’t go to superlatives in my stories. I had predicted greatness for Dilip Sardesai when he was a college student in 1960s, for Sunil Gavaskar when he was a schoolboy, for Brett Lee and Michael Clarke when they played in Sydney’s Grade cricket.

I saw Deepti bowl only a few overs against Pakistan women before commenting to myself that here is a world-class off-spinner. She reminded me of Ravichandran Ashwin and the legendary EAS Prasanna.

Deepti is only 19 and has a lot to learn. But the talent is there.

And remember she was not bowling on specially prepared Indian pitches made for spinners. It was in England.

I had only read about Deepti Sharma as a top order left-hand batter. Especially her 188 off 160 balls against Ireland at Potchefstroom this May. It is the highest score by an Indian in women’s ODIs and second highest after Australia’s Belinda Clarke’s 229 not out against Denmark in 1997.

Deepti hit 27 fours in that innings, a world record in women’s cricket in that match. She put on 320 runs with Poonam Raut, highest partnership in women’s ODIs. During that innings, she became the 10th  youngest centurion.

She dedicated that innings to her mother Sushila and her coach Vipin Awasthi. She had made her debut in high grade cricket as a 13 year-old, helped by her elder brother.

She bats left-handed but bowls right-arm.

As at today, in 26 ODIs she has scored 917 runs at 48.26 at a strike rate of 63, scored a century and seven fifties belting 113 fours and seven sixes.

However, I am more interested in her bowling. She has taken 35 wickets at 21.20 with an impressive economy rate of 3.36. Her best figures are 6 for 20 against Sri Lanka in 2016. She was only 18 then and became the youngest Indian to take a 5-wicket haul.

Born on 24 August 1997 in Utter Pradesh, Deepti is a big fan of Suresh Raina. Coincidentally, Raina also bats left-handed and bowls right-arm off-breaks. Although she has a long way to go, in my opinion Deepti bowls more accurately and more effectively than her hero.

Let’s wait and see how she develops in international cricket.

If India is to enter the semi-final, it depends on how their batters Smriti Mandhana and skipper Mithali Raj, bowlers Ekta Bisht and Jhulan Goswami and all-rounder Deepti Sharma perform.


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