A poster girl for women’s cricket, Mithali showed the path for a generation

Mithali proved a motivation for many during her illustrious career.

Mithali proved a motivation for many during her illustrious career. | Photo Credit: PTI

For a long, long time, there was only one poster girl for Indian women’s cricket. She answered to the name Mithali Raj.

For more than two decades, she carried the bat for the Women in Blue — and on the rare occasions when they wore whites — in admirable fashion.

She announced her retirement from international cricket, at the age of 39, on Wednesday. India’s match against South Africa in the Women’s World Cup at Christchurch on March 27 has turned out to be her last.

It had all begun when her father took her to her brother’s cricket training sessions at Secunderabad where the coach first spotted her potential.

The game will miss her assured presence at the wicket, and those beauteous cover drives. Her friendly smile — even at the end of a demanding or even disappointing day — will also be missed. She has been a fine ambassador for women’s cricket.

An inspiration

Mithali shattered several batting records. She inspired many girls to pick up a cricket bat when it wasn’t the most glamorous thing to do.

From her bat have flown 7,805 runs in 232 ODIs and 2,364 in 89 T20Is. If she played only in 12 Tests, that is because women get to play a few of them. She scored 699 runs in those Tests; her 214, which she made at Taunton against England in 2002, remains the second highest individual score in Women’s Tests.

With 10,868 runs, she is the leading scorer in international women’s cricket.

She is also the highest run-getter in WODIs, in which she made a stunning debut aged 16 in 1999, with an unbeaten 114 against Ireland at Milton Keynes. She led India in two World Cup finals.

Bright stars

By the time Mithali reached the evening of her career, Indian women’s cricket was no longer just about her, or the champion bowler and her contemporary, Jhulan Goswami. If the game has several bright stars now in Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur and Shafali Verma, she is one of the biggest reasons for that.

She was the Sunil Gavaskar of women’s cricket the Sachin Tendulkars and Rahul Dravids wanted to emulate.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2022 2:35:53 pm |