"You are only 16. Chin up, Shafali!"
Heartbreaking scenes were witnessed at packed MCG stadium after India, playing in their first Women's T20 World Cup Final, were outperformed in a one-sided affair against Australia, who lifted their fifth title on Sunday.
With Australia batting first, India received their first setback after young sensation Shafali Verma dropped the opener, Alyssa Healy, on nine in the first over, who went onto smash 75.
Soon after, Beth Mooney too received a second life when Rajeshwari Gayakwad dropped a return chance when the batter was on 8.
Healy (75), along with Mooney (78*) propelled the hosts to a gigantic score of 184/4 in their designated 20 overs.
All eyes were on 16 years and 40 days old Verma, who jumped the ranks through the course of the tournament and piled up 161 in the league matches.
As luck would have it, Verma was undone on the third ball of the first over in the Indian run chase. The teenager fell caught behind trying to run Megan Schutt to the third man, knicking it to the keeper.
After her departure, Team India's batting unit came crumbling down to 99 all out at the hands of Schutt and spinner Jess Jonassen.
Upset by the earlier drop and failing to bounce back in the chase, Verma looked visibly distraught when India were reeling at 55/4 and eventually broke down during the presentation ceremony as the visitors faced an 85-run defeat in their first T20 World Cup finals.
While the young sensation was consoled by her teammates, captain Harmanpreet Kaur felt it was a learning experience for Verma and praised the Indian opener for a stunning World Cup journey.
"She's only 16, she's playing her first World Cup. She did really, really well and performed for us," said Kaur. "For a 16-year-old kid, it's difficult to keep thinking positively and stay in the game.
Cricket fans too believed Verma was being harsh on herself and consoled her with virtual tissues and hugs on Twitter.
The most heartbreaking picture of the day! Incredible throughout the match but couldn't win it for #India on the day of the final. Chin up, #Shafali. You're just 16 and you have made us proud. #INDvAUS #T20WorldCup #T20WorldCup #shafaliverma #TeamIndia pic.twitter.com/vIiYcqvzYp— RinaShah (@RinaaShah) March 8, 2020
Shafali Verma : #T20WorldCup293946472She is just a 16 year old kid..took entair team in to finals..how can ppl troll her by Sachin's in 2003 WC Don't cry girl you batted well through out the tournament! 💙#T20WorldCup#INDvAUS #AUSvIND #TeamIndia pic.twitter.com/6Fn8VBe9On— Bharathi M Kumar (@BharathiKumar4) March 8, 2020
Most 16 year old have no clue what to do in life, this girl had a whole nation watching her, banking their hopes on her. The inexperience in that age was going to show up some day, unfortunately it showed up at the worst possible time.Chin up, Shafali Verma ❤️🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/XFMBXaZyYS— Prajakta (@18prajakta) March 8, 2020
At 16, my achievement was getting out of my braces and glasses phase. At 16, Shafali Verma played in a T20 World Cup final in front of 95 thousand people.— Anu Menon (@ExLolaKutty) March 8, 2020