Cricket: Mithali Raj announces retirement
By Chehak Mishra
New Delhi, June 8: India’s former women’s cricket team captain Mithali Raj announced retirement today. In her 23-year-old international cricket journey, she holds the record of most half-centuries in WODIs. In June 2018 during the 2018 Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup, she became the first player from India (either male or female) to score 2000 runs in T20Is, and also became the first woman cricketer to reach 2000 WT20I runs. Mithali is not just a batswoman but also a good bowler, specializing in right-arm leg breaks.
Mithali started playing cricket at the age of 10. She was also a Bharatanatyam dancer. When she had to choose between the two, the choice was obviously not easy. Specialy in 90s when women cricketers were not so common. Mithali in an interview shared how her grandparents were concerned about her getting tanned if she plays under sun. But her parents became her cheerleaders.
Mithali made her debut in ODI on 26th june 1999 against Ireland and scored 114 runs. On Januray 14th 2002 she made her test debut but the match was not so lucky for Raj as she was run out for a duck. She then made her T20 debut on 5th august 2006 against England scoring a 28 off 37 balls and India won the match by eight wickets.
Mithali has done wonders with her bat. However a controversy broke out surrounding Mithali in 2018 T20 worldcup that saw her dropped from the team for semi-finals against England which India lost.
In an interview with Firstpost, she told “I wanted to retire after the World T20 2018 itself, but because of the controversy, I was not in the right space. The controversy lasted for close to three months, so I couldn’t give much thought to take this call (retirement) at that time”. However, her dad wanted her to retire from her home soil. Mithali didn’t let emotions affect her decision and decided to continue.
She shared an incident from her early cricket days, when she used to travel with her kit, people assumed her to be a hockey player. It was hard for people that time to even imagine there is a women cricket team. When asked who is her favorite cricketer in men’s team is, she replied ‘do you ever ask any male cricketer who, his favorite female cricketer is?
She has won Arjuna Award for Cricket in 2003, followed by Padma Shree in 2015 and Major Dhyanchand Award for cricketers in 2021.
After 23 magnificent years of ups and downs, Mithali has finally decided to bid adieu to International Cricket. On her twitter handle she wrote “I feel now is the perfect time to call curtains on my playing career as the team is in the capable hands of some very talented young players and the future of Indian cricket is bright.” “This journey may have ended but another one beckons as I’d love to stay involved in the game I love and contribute to the growth of Women’s cricket in India and world over.
Jay shah and BCCI also wished Raj luck for second innings.
Achievements at a glance:
– Most runs in women’s international cricket
– Most women’s ODIs as captain
– Longest ODI career for anyone
– Youngest to score a double in women’s Tests
– Most fifties in women’s internationals/ODIs