Years ago in the early 90s, a lazy 10 year old girl was pushed on to the cricket field by her father to nurture discipline in her life. Every morning she woke up at 4 to trail along with her elder brother and threw balls at nets, wondering every moment what she was doing there. Little did she know that her life was going to take a twist and plunge deep into this beautiful game. And little did her coaches know that they were creating the ‘Lady Sachin’ of India.
A pillar of strength would be the best way to describe Mithali Raj on the field. In 2004, at the age of 21 years, Mithali was made the youngest captain of the women’s national cricket team.
“I was forced into something I didn’t like,” Mithali says about cricket, “From the beginning I played cricket only to make my parents happy.”
Now, as the captain, she has led her girls through ups and downs, adding victory over victory in their basket. It was under her captaincy that the Indian Women’s cricket team won their first Test series against England in 2006. She has also led the team in three Asia Cup tournaments, all three won by Indian women’s cricket team.
Mithali is currently at the fifth position in women’s batting ranking. She has the record of the second most number of consecutive matches without a duck out- 74. She is also the second person to achieve 5000 runs in ODI women cricket and the topper of the charts of Women’s Cricket World Cup in 2013.
“Since we have done well against Australia and Sri Lanka, the people’s expectations have risen, and it is important that we use this platform to promote women’s cricket in India,” says Mithali, hoping against hope that the World Cup will increase viewer-ship for women’s cricket.
And when asked about the T20 World Cup that is going on, she seemed confident.
“With the kind of momentum we have, we should at least qualify for the semi-finals. From there, it’s anyone’s game,” said Mithali.
She has received the Arjuna award in 2003 and also the Padma Shri, which she received in 2015.Mithali is also the only female cricketer to win the Wisden India Cricketers of the Year recognition in 2015.
Now she is at it again at the T20 World Cup 2016, scoring 42 runs off 35 balls in the first match against Bangladesh. Her new look compliments her fiery performance on the field.
Ah, how happy must her parents be when they see their lazy girl creating magic on the pitch.
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