Mark my words – teenager Deepti will be a top-class off-spinner soon: Kersi Meher-Homji
The Women’s World Cup match between India and Pakistan 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 in 10 overs.
To me the high spot was teenager Deepti Sharma’s off-spinners. She took only 1 for 21 in 10 overs. But class tells. Mark my words, she will be a world class offie one day soon. And not just in women’s cricket.
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. But this article is not about me.
I saw Deepti bowl only a few overs in the match against Pakistan women before commenting to myself that here is a world-class offie, almost as good as Ravichandran Ashwin. Her flight, acute spin and accuracy reminded me of the legendary EAS Prasanna.
The girl with a boy’s haircut 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. 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.
In 24 ODIs (as at 4 July) she has scored 779 runs at 45.82 at a strike rate of 63, scored a century and five fifties belting 98 fours and seven sixes.
However, I am more interested in her bowling. She has taken 34 wickets at 18.67 with an impressive economy rate of 3.13 and strike rate of 35.70. 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, like her Raina also bats left-handed and bowls right-arm off-breaks. Although she has a long way to go, Deepti Sharma bowls more accurately and more efficiently than her hero.
Let’s wait and see how she develops in international cricket.