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Updated: January 28, 2013 00:13 IST

She wields the willow to chase a dream

V. V. Subrahmanyam
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Indian women's cricket captain MIthali Raj at her training session in Hyderabad. Photo;: V.V.Subrahmanyam
THE HINDU Indian women's cricket captain MIthali Raj at her training session in Hyderabad. Photo;: V.V.Subrahmanyam

Mithali Raj will lead the women’s cricket team in the World Cup tournament that begins in Mumbai next week

It is World Cup time. Minus the usual hype and rage for any special coverage. Many might not even know who is leading India this time around. Reason? It is the women’s edition which will get under way in Mumbai early next week! So, for cricket fans who are obsessed with the likes of Dhonis and Tendulkars, even a star performer like the current Indian captain, Mithali Raj, who is also the World No. 1 in one-dayers (women’s cricket), may not be the focal point and a crowd-puller if she were to walk on the streets of Hyderabad, her hometown.

Only a couple of days ago, Mithali was training, tucked away in a far corner of the crowded St. John’s Foundation (Secunderabad), with Railways coach R.S.R. Murthy helping her.

Yet, this 30-year-old Hyderabadi is in the mood to chase her ultimate dream – to win a World Cup. Focused as she has always been, Mithali insists there can be no better joy than winning the Cup at the venue where Dhoni’s men were crowned 2011 World Cup champions.

This gifted cricketer’s magnificent achievements include individual score of 214 runs in a Test match in England (2006), smashing a century on her ODI debut in 2002, leading India to its fourth Asia Cup title and to the 2005 World Cup final in South Africa, leading the team to its first-ever Test series win in England in 2006.

To cap it all, Mithali is the second-highest scorer ever (after Charlotte Edwards of England with 4,783 runs) with 4,490 runs from 141 ODIs with three centuries and 36 fifties.

Now, playing her fourth World Cup, Mithali, for whom footwork has come quite naturally as she was a Bharatnatyam dancer till 1991 when love for the willow forced her to quit classical dancing.

Ironically, even now, all that women cricketers get playing for the country is peanuts – a meagre Rs. 1 lakh for the entire series or for a tour. Well, only the other day it was reported that Dhoni’s earnings were around Rs. 134 crore!

Cricketers like Mithali play for the sheer passion of the game – well aware of their limitations on various fronts. “We badly need a big win. And, I hope we come up with a special performance in this World Cup to change the face of women’s cricket in India itself,” insists SCR officer Mithali, who interestingly has a fellow Hyderabadi and left-arm spinner Gouher Sultana in the World Cup team.

By all means, it has been a fabulous journey to stardom from the by-lanes of Alwal Municipality in Secunderabad.

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