Mithali Raj – Talented Powerhouse of Indian Women Cricket
Mithali Raj is India’s greatest female batswoman who has reached many milestones in her two-decade-old international career. She is a right-handed opening batswoman and right-arm leg-break bowler. Mithali is the highest run-scorer in women’s International Cricket and she is the only female cricketer in the women`s cricket to surpass the 7,000 run mark in Women’s One Day International matches.
In July 2021, in the 3rd woman third Women`s One Day International match playing against England, Mithali Raj became the leading run-scorer in Women’s International Cricket. She went past Charlotte Edwards’ previous record of 10,273 runs.
Born as Mithali Dorai Raj on 3rd December 1982, she attended Keyes High School for Girls in Secunderabad followed by Kasturba Junior College for pursuing further studies. It was during her school days she started training for cricket.
Mithali was chosen for the Indian Team at the age of seventeen. It didn’t take her a long time to prove her calibre and acumen. She rose through the ranks and emerged as one of the most talented and promising batsmen when she scored 214 runs against the England Team in the final test in Taunton. This she achieved at the age of 19. That was just the beginning of the story of a cricketer like Mithali Raj. There has been no looking back ever since. Her commendable performances earned her the tag – “Lady Sachin” and currently Mithali Raj is the highest run-scorer in women’s international cricket.
The Saga of Success
It takes hard work and effort to rise to fame and success. Raj made her way to both the One Day International and Test Cricket for the Women’s Cricket Team of India. She was also speculated to be a part of the 1997 Women’s Cricket World Cup at the tender age of 14 because of the immense pool of talent. However, Age didn’t make it to the final cut.
Nevertheless, Mithali Raj made her One Day International debut in the year 1999, two years after she didn’t make it to the final list. The most impressive and memorable thing about her debut was the fact she scored 114 runs that too unbeaten. Soon followed the test debut in the year 2001-2002 against South Africa. Since then there has been no looking back.
In the same season, on August 17th, Mithali Raj successfully broke the world record of scoring the highest run in the women’s test. With her 214 runs against England, she broke Karen Rolton’s record of scoring the highest test score – 209- in the world. Two years later, her record was broken by Pakistan’s Kiran Baluch, who scored 242 against West Indies in the year March 2004.
The year 2005 – Game Changer
The 2005 Women’s World Cup was a highly anticipated contest as it was making a return after five long years. Having witnessed the first encounter being called off because of heavy rains, the Indian Women Cricket Team went on to win the next three matches. Though the Indian team lost to New Zealand, they managed to achieve second place in the right-team table.
New Zealand, the familiar foes, were waiting in the semi-finals. The Women In Blue required a solid start in the first innings having asked to bat first. The time was in favour, and Mithali Raj rose to success.
What are the real qualities of a promising athlete? The ability to perform in a not-so-encouraging atmosphere – Raj did that is a very composed way of winning the hearts of millions of her fans. The team was decimated to 127-4 however Raj scored unbeaten 91 helping the country reach a defendable total of 204. Then they bowled out the Kiwis for 164 runs only to win by 40 runs.
Moments that Made Mithali Famous
In the following year in August, India won their maiden test series over England under the leadership of Mithali Raj. Indian Women Cricket Team won the 2006 Asia Cup. India repeated this achievement the second time in twelve months – without dropping out even a single game.
In May 2008, she led India to the fourth consecutive Asia Cup title. Also, she crossed the 3000-run landmark during this time. Raj lost the captaincy after a poor show in England the same year where India did not even manage to win a single match. However, it was the 2012 England Tour that helped her earned the captaincy back. Consistently, she went on to score high runs. In February 2017, Raj became the second player to get past the 5,500 scores in WODIs. In July 2017, she became the first women batswoman to cross 6,000 runs mark in the limited-overs format.
2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup
2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup was crucial not only for Mithali Raj but also for the team India. Unlike in the past, the team now had a slew of highly skilled and talented cricketers to take care of the series. India won the first four matches in the group stage. In the last group, Raj scored 109 runs helping India to score a total of 265/7 and help the team in beating Black Caps for 79 runs to enter the World Cup semi-finals with a 187 run-win, the biggest victory in the World Cup.
Mithali Raj was involved in a controversy with the cricket management because of her attitude towards the game during ICC Women’s World T20 in 2018. She was criticized by the management for putting in minimum inputs in team meetings despite being the senior-most player. She was also blamed for her inability to understand and adapt to the team plan. Her relationship with the T20 cricket captain, Harmanpreet Kaur is also strained.
Awards and Honors
- Arjuna Award in 2003
- Padam Shri 2015
- Wisden Indian Cricket OF The Year 2015
- Youth Sports Icon Excellence Award at Radiance Wellness Conclave, Chennai, 2017
- Vogue Sportsperson of the Year at Vogue’s 10th Anniversary in 2017
- Listed on BBC 100 Women List in 2017
The shining Indian Cricketer has a long way to go. In 2017, Viacom 18 obtained the necessary rights to make the biopic on her life with Taapsee Pannu playing her role in – “Shabbash Mithu”.