Mithali Raj turns 39: Why is she called Pillar of Indian Women’s Cricket?

Regarded as one of the most decorated players of women’s cricket, India’s ODI and Test Captain Mithali Raj turns 39 today. A role model for women across the country, the Indian national cricket team got Mithali back in 1999 at the age of 16 when she announced her welcome smashing 114 against Ireland in ODI, becoming the youngest to do so. Since then, the woman from India’s ‘Blue City’ Jodhpur, Rajasthan, has been unstoppable, adding record after record to her name.

 

Mithali Raj. PC: ICC
Mithali Raj. PC: ICC

On her special day, let’s have a glimpse of her more than two-decades-long exceptional cricket career:

· Leading Run Scorer

With 7391 runs in ODIs, Raj stands at the top as the leading run-scorer in the format, way ahead of others, still adding good runs to the figure. The second-ranked player is former English cricketer Charlotte Edwards with 5992 runs. Along with the 50-over format, the run machine, also leads the run-scorer tally for India in T20I from which she retired in 2019, with 2364 runs. In the test, she is the fourth-best Indian woman with 699 runs from 19 innings (12 matches) recording the only double ton for the team in the format.

· Most Number of Matches

It isn’t just limited to runs for this 2021 Khel Ratna awardee, Raj also records the most ODI matches in women’s cricket both as a player and as a captain, leading both the categories with 220 and 143 respectively. Also, playing the most number of consecutive ODI matches for the team with 109 as a player and second in the category as a captain with 57, the first being Australia’s Belinda Clark with 58.

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Mithali Raj - Pillar of Indian Women's Cricket
Mithali Raj – Pillar of Indian Women’s Cricket

· Most Fifties

The leading run-scorer across all three formats of women’s cricket, Raj also records the most number of fifties in the ODI. Her total of 66 fifty or plus scores (59 half-centuries and 7 centuries) in 220 matches with the highest being 125 not out, makes her lead the category by a margin of 11 with the second-ranked Edwards. Not only this, she also holds the record for the highest number of consecutive fifties in the format leading with seven and followed by three players with six. She is also second in the category in the shortest format recording four consecutive fifties, two less than the White Ferns captain Sophie Devine who leads with six consecutive T20I fifties.

· Longest Career

The 2015 Padma Shri awardee, Raj has an ODI career with a span of 22y 92d as of September 2021, the highest in the format for women’s cricket. She is followed by her teammate Jhulan Goswami who has had an ODI career of 19y 263d as of September 2021. Both of these Indian legends are tied at 19y 262d as of October 2021 in the test occupying the second spot.

If you thought this was all about Mithali, then you should definitely watch her biopic titled ‘Shabaash Mithu’ starring Taapsee Pannu which is set to hit the screens on 4th February next year ahead of the 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup, the only title missing in Raj’s applaudable cricket career which she aims to achieve in New Zealand in the month of March/April.

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What Mithali Raj has given to women cricket in India is worth appreciating. She is one of the big reasons for the increasing popularity of the sport in the country where men’s cricket was given the majority of attention. She is an inspiration for every daughter of India to come out of their comfort zones and fly high achieving big for their motherland.

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