Raj, captain of India Women Team is named the ‘Tendulkar of Women Cricket’.
Mithali Raj, the captain of India Women team in Test and ODI, is a forerunner of women cricket in not only India, but the world. She is considered as one of the greatest women cricketers with several feats. Raj is a master of many records, that include being the highest run-getter in International Women Cricket, the first player to score 7 consecutive half centuries, first cricketer to reach 2000 T20I runs and several others. Her gracefulness both on and off field is with a substantial class, gaining super fans from across the globe. Recently, she shared one of her photos in social media wearing a Salwar Kameez. Her gorgeous looks could not keep off her die-hard fans to name her “Madhubala of Cricket”! Comparing her to the pretty and nostalgic Bollywood actor.
Mithali was born in Jodhpur of Rajasthan on December 3, 1982. Her father is Dorai Raj and he worked as a Warrant Officer in India Air Force and later as a Banker. Mithali’s mother, Leela Raj is a home-maker. Being a child from a typical Tamil family, Mithali’s first love was Classical dance. At the age of 8, she developed a strong interest towards Bharatanatyam. Her father once disclosed that she “was keen on becoming a dancer, but destiny had other plans...” Mithali used to accompany her elder brother picking up the bat and reading books by the side of the field at St. John’s Cricket Academy in Secunderabad. In fact, it was her father, who dragged her early in the morning breaking her laziness into a healthy routine.
Mithali wanted to be classical dancer, Cricket was her father’s choice.
Watching the kid, coach of the Academy, Jyothi Prasad suggested Dorai Raj that she too should join the academy. It was the beginning of a new path. Surprisingly, Mithali picked up the skills of batting faster than other kids and by the age of 10, she began to play. When she attended Keyes High School for Girls in Secuderabad, she found Sampath Kumar as her cricket coach. In an interview, the cricketer described him as the “strictest coach”, she ever came across. Kumar promised that he would make Mithali play for India by the age of 14. In fact, the coach wanted to break the record of Sachin Tendulkar, who debuted International cricket at the age of 16. Mithali represented India with the Under-16 team, the Under-19, finally playing alongside the senior team at the age of 17.
Cricket came up to Mithali as a transition from Dance. She once said that dancing was very difficult for her to let go, but there was a decision to be taken. She acknowledged that leaving dance was a “big sacrifice” as she was very inclined towards it. Dancing was natural for her and she wanted to be dancer. She disclosed that Cricket was obviously her father’s choice. Her father too, in return made sacrifices to make her a cricketer. He even turned down a promotion so that the family could live in Hyderabad and Mithali could continue her training.
Raj led Team India to the finals of Women World Cup both in 2005 and 2017.
At the age of 14, Mithali was among the top contenders for a debut at the 1997 Women’s Cricket World Cup. However, she was not selected for the primary team. In domestic cricket, she played for Railways and latter with Air India. Mithali debuted International Cricket in the match against Ireland in 1999. She nicked her maiden century in the maiden ODI, remaining unbeaten with the score of 114 at Milton Keynes.
Mithali’s International career blazed up early due to her impressive batting, taking her to the zenith in only a couple of years. She was with Team India playing their first final in 2002 Women’s Cricket World Cup. In 2005 World Cup, she led the team to the finals. It was under her captainship that team India won Asia Cup following a long unbeaten stretch of victory. In 2017 World Cup, she again led India to final stage. On being questioned after losing the winning game with England, she famously remarked, “India must play more Test matches to produce quality players”. It was under her leadership that India won the first Test series against England back in 2005.
Currently, Raj is the only women cricketer to surpass 6000 ODI runs.
Mithali Raj nicked several records, rising to prominence as the No. 1 ICC ODI Women Cricketer during 2013 Women’s World Cup. She is the first and the only Women cricketer to knock more than 6000 runs in ODI. She is also among the longest serving captains representing team India both in ICC World Cup finals-2005 and 2017. She played 109 ODIs, which is the highest for any women cricketer. In 2003, Mithali Raj was awarded Arjuna Award and in 2015, she was awarded Padma Shri by the Indian Government. In 2017, she was in the 100 Women list by BBC. For her record batting, Raj is also known as the “Tendulkar of Indian women’s cricket”.
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