May 21, 2024

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Born to an Indian Air Force Officer, Mithali Raj has had a very interesting mix of life during her upbringing. She belongs to a Tamil Family, was born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, attended school and college in Secunderabad and now lives in Hyderabad.

Today everyone knows Mithali Raj. Most importantly it is because of her that Indian Women’s Cricket Team is known. Mithali was that glamourous factor to the women’s cricket team because of which people began to watch their matches on television. But her success has not come without cost.

Currently India women’s team ODI captain, Mithali was named among the probables in the 1997 Women's Cricket World Cup when she was just 14, but couldn't make it to the final squad debuted internationally in the year 1999 in an ODI match against Ireland in which she scored an unbeaten 114. She made her Test debut in 2002 against South Africa at Lucknow. On 17 August 2002, at the age of 19, in her third Test, she broke Royton’s record of world's highest individual Test score of 209, scoring a new high of 214 against England in the second and final Test at County Ground, Taunton. Mithali made her T20 debut in 2006 against England. Since then, Mithali has had a long and arduous journey and her faith in herself has kept her going. Today Indian Women Cricket is synonymous with her name as she holds multiple records to her name.

ODI records:

Mithali Raj has scored 6,720 runs in the 203 international ODI matches at the average of 51.29 which includes 7 centuries and 52 half centuries. In the ODIs; the highest score of Mithali was 125 not out. Mithali Raj has also taken 8 wickets in the ODIs .

Test Match Records:

Mithali Raj has scored 663 runs in 16 innings of 10 test matches which includes a double century (214) a century and 4 half centuries. She has very good average in the test matches i.e. 51 runs per match.

Mithali in T-20 International:

Mithali is the only woman cricketer who scored 2000 runs in Twenty20 Internationals (T20I). She has scored 2364 runs in the 84 innings at the average of 37 runs per match. Highest score of Mithali was 97 runs not out in the T-20I. Although she could not manage to score any century in the T-20I but she has scored 17 half centuries in this format. Mithali has taken retirement from the T20I.

Let us look at her other achievements.

  1. Mithali is the highest run-scorer in woman's international cricket.
  2. She is the first women cricketer to score 7 consecutive half-centuries in ODI's. Overall, Javed Miandad is the only player ahead of Mithali who scored 9 consecutive half centuries.
  3. Mithali holds the record for the 2nd highest score (214 runs) in women's Test cricket.
  4. 4She is the highest run scorer in the ODIs i.e. 6720 runs. She superseded England's Charlotte Edwards (5992 runs).
  5. 5. On 1 February 2019; Mithali became the first woman to play 200 ODI matches.
  6. Mithali Raj is the only player (male or female) who have captained India in more than one ICC ODI World Cup final. she did so two time in 2017 and 2005.
  7. She is the 1st Indian & 5th woman cricketer overall to score over 1,000 World Cup runs.
  8. 8. At the 2013 Women's World Cup, Raj was the No.1 Cricketer in the ODI chart among women. She scored 100s: 1 and 50s: 4 in Test cricket, 100s: 5 and 50s: 50 with best bowling of 3/4 in ODIs and 50s: 10 in T20s.
  9. In February 2017, she became the second player to score 5,500 runs in WODIs. Raj is the first player to captain most matches for India in ODI and T20I.
  10. In July 2017, she became the first player to score 6,000 runs in WODIs. She led the Indian team to the  final of the 2017 Women's Cricket World Cup where the team lost to England by nine runs.
  11. In December 2017, she was named as one of the players in the ICC Women's ODI Team of the Year.
  12. In October 2018, she was named in India's squad for the 2018 ICC Women's World Twenty20 tournament in the West Indie
  13. In October 2019, she had another feather to her feats. She led the Indian Women cricket team to their 100th ODI win after winning the series against South Africa 3-0.

However, Mithali Raj’s career has had her own share of troubles and controversies.  During the Women’s World Cup 2002, Raj was ill with a strain of typhoid thus seriously hampering India's progress. During the 2018 ICC Women's World Twenty20. She accused the coach Ramesh Powar and BCCI COA member Diana Edulji in a letter to BCCI of bias, humiliation and not including her in the T20 world cup semifinals. Powar in turn criticized that Raj had threatened that she would retire from the game of the cricket when asked to play down the batting order.[45] He also accused Raj of 'blackmailing and pressurising coaches' apart from causing division in the team during the recently concluded World T20. He added, "despite being a senior player in the team she puts in minimum inputs in team meetings. She could not understand & adapt to the team plan. She ignored her role and batted for own milestones. Lack of keeping the momentum going which was putting extra pressure on other batters." 

It is sad that like Mary Kom, Mithali was made to suffer by the bureaucracy in the India’s Sports divisions. A play of such a magnitude and who devoted so much to the game had to go through so much of pain and suffering by the idiotic bureaucracy is plainly condemnable. However, we are glad that she got her due and she is back at her game and at the helm of affairs.

In September 2019, Mthali took retirement from T20 sports so that she can concentrate on the Women’s Cricket World Cup  in 2021 and win it, a dream she hopes to fulfil before she bids her final adieu to the game.

For her contribution to Cricket, Mithali has been awarded at national and international level. Notably in 2003, she was felicitated with the Arjuna Award, in 2015 with Padma Sri, in 2017 with Youth Sports Icon Excellence Award, and in 2017 she also recognized as ‘Vogue sportsperson of the Year.’

Although not much is known about her man in life, Mithali has indeed confessed to be a bibliophile and an avid book lover. While she has to wait for her batting turn to come, Mithali is usually seen turning the pages of book that, according to her, keeps her confident and sane.

Mithali Raj will be an icon for many years to come for both boys and girls alike. Like a true warrior, she has overcome many odds to succeed. We look forward to her bringing the Women’s World Cup 2021 home as she prepares herself and her team mates for the battle that is long overdue.

 Her story will continue to live on as a biopic is being made on her that will be starring Tapsee Pannu. 

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