It was November 28, 2014 when a 17-year-old Deepti Sharma made her international debut for India in the third ODI of the series against South Africa Women at Bengaluru. It didn’t turn out to be the kind of rosy beginning to her international career that she would have dreamt of. The debutant had to walk back to the pavilion for the contribution of just a solitary run after a painstaking stay of 18 deliveries at the crease while batting at No. 3.
But it was her comeback with the ball afterwards that showed the kind of character, grit, determination and confidence she possessed. With the score on 121/2 in the 28th over of the inning, South Africa looked well on course to their target of 181 runs. However, Deepti came on to bowl and sent both of the set batters, Nadine Moodley (54) and Mignon du Preez (46), back to the pavilion in the space of just three deliveries.
South Africa lost two more wickets after that and a series of some more tight overs from Deepti left South Africa huffing and puffing on their way to the target. The visitors still went on to win the match but the young debutant made an impression with an excellent spell of 10-0-35-2. A win would have definitely made her debut match memorable but good things take time to happen.
Five years down the line, she is the No. 2 ranked all-rounder in Women’s ODIs and is making steady approach up the rankings in the T20I format as well. And it is the shortest format of the game which gave her the opportunity to fulfill a wish which was left incomplete on her international debut.
The opposition was South Africa once again as India Women took them on in the first T20I of the five-match series at Surat on Tuesday. Just like her debut international match, India were once again restricted to a paltry total of 130/8. She could manage only a run-a-ball 16 while batting at No.5 this time. However, it was her bowling with which she did the damage once again.
WOW what a performance from Deepti Sharma!
In her side’s victory today she recorded figures of 4-3-8-3 🔥 pic.twitter.com/DSIyNLobuY
— ICC (@ICC) September 24, 2019
South Africa Women had made a steady start as they were 29 for 1 at the end of four overs. But Deepti came on to bowl and dismissed both Tazmin Brits and Nadine de Klerk in the fifth over of the Proteas inning. Not only that, it was a maiden as well. The momentum of the match shifted in India’s favour with that over. The 22-year-old came on to bowl the ninth over again and she dismissed Sune Luus this time, along with bowling a maiden once again. Her next over was a maiden as well and she didn’t give away a single run until her 19th delivery. Yes, South Africa took eight runs from her last over but the impact of the performance in such a low scoring encounter can be understood on taking a look at her overall figures of 4-3-8-3.
Her effort didn’t go in vain this time as South Africa were bundled out for just 119 runs which was 11 runs short of India’s total.
Deepti was deservedly adjudged the Player-of-the-match and with this performance, she had 31 wickets to her name in a similar number of T20Is at an excellent economy rate of 5.99. Her batting numbers of 213 runs at an average of 15.21 might not give a good impression about her as a batter but her ODI numbers, which read 1380 runs at an average of 41.81, suggest how good a batter she is. Yes, strike-rates of 63.41 and 91.81 in ODIs and T20Is respectively might not seem to be the best but it is something that can be worked upon.
However, despite her limitations as a big-hitter, she is one amongst the rare set of 11 players to have taken 30-plus wickets and scored 200-plus runs in Women’s T20Is since 2016. And she is only going to become a better player considering the number of years she has ahead of her.
Deepti’s ODI record gives a better understanding about her abilities as an all-rounder. She has the third highest tally of runs (1380) among players who have taken 50 or more wickets in Women’s ODIs since her debut in 2014. Only Ellyse Perry (2025) and Dane van Niekerk (1438) have more runs than her. In fact, she is one of the only four players to have scored 1000-plus runs and taken 50-plus wickets since her ODI debut. And she has achieved all of this with excellent batting and bowling averages of 41.81 and 27.39 respectively.
So all these facts and numbers show Deepti’s class as a player. She hardly gets the same kind of attention as all-rounders like Perry and Niekerk but she is silently carving out her own legacy. Read more India cricket news.
Written by: Prasenjit Dey