Top 5 half-century moments of Mithali Raj

In 1999, a 17 years old girl, came to the crease to open the innings for India. It was her debut match and she made a blistering knock of unbeaten 114 against Ireland to mark the emergence of a star in women cricket. It was the extraordinary start of a memorable journey of 18 years, in which she witnessed many cheering victories and heartbreaking defeats but in those 18 years, her bat most of the time stood for the team.

Top 5 half-century moments of Mithali Raj

In the last match against Srilanka, she reached her 48th half century and her 53 runs turns out to be valuable in the context of the match which eventually India won by 16 runs. Just 34 runs short to surpass another legend Charlotte Edwards, Mithali need 41 runs more to become the first woman in the World to reach 6000 runs mark in ODI cricket. And as recently she made a world record of 8 half-centuries in consecutive innings, becoming the first to do so in women cricket, this gives us the chance to discuss about some of the memorable half centuries she has made, from her tally of 48.

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1. 86* against Australia in the 6th match of the series, 24/12/2004, Vadodara.
It was the 6th match of the 7 match ODI series, which was already lost by India as they were trailing 0-4. To regain the lost pride, India needed to win the remaining two matches. And in this match, India won the toss, elected to field and restricted the opponent top a modest total of 184.

Top 5 half-century moments of Mithali Raj

India was on 20/2 at one stage. As Jaya Sharma was heading towards the pavilion after being bowled by Smith for 9, one could see the shadow was coming out of the dressing room with her trusted willow. On that day her willow showed no mercy on the fireballs thrown towards her from the Australian cannons. But it will be extremely wrong on our behalf to assume that aggression can be displayed through fours and sixes. This unbeaten 86 of her took 146 balls and comprised with 11 fours indeed a true example of composed aggression. Her partnership of 109 runs for the 3rd wicket with Hemlata Kala turned the match towards India. She like a brave captain of a sinking ship remained there till the end and helped the ship pull out from the danger and reach the harbour safely. For her composed and responsible knock of 86* India registered their first win of the series by 5 wickets. Sorry, there is no prize (I know) for guessing the player of the match.

2. 91* against New Zealand in the Semi Final of Women’s World Cup, 7/4/2005, Potchefstroom.
Ah. I think it would be a punishable offense if we don’t discuss this match. It’s World Cup semi-final and India very much wanted to break their Semi-final jinx. And skipper herself took the responsibility to achieve that feat which has been never repeated again. India defeated New Zealand in the semi-final and faced off the Aussies in the final.

Top 5 half-century moments of Mithali Raj

Batting first, India scored a total of 204. But the lion-share of the runs came off the bat of the skipper herself. Came out to bat at no 3 she not only steadied the innings but also never let the run flow stop. Her 91* first of saved the Indian innings from the fiery spells of Phullar who took 4 wickets in the match and then took the attack to the opposition to reach 204. Her innings was decorated with 9 boundaries in which the cover drives were worthy of watching. She reached her 50 in 64 balls which means she made her last 41 runs in just 44 balls which was quiet amazing in those days. And due to the innings of Mithali Raj, the White Fern’s decision to bowl first in the precious Semi-final seemed to back fired at them as they failed to chase the run and lost the match by a huge margin of 40 runs. Mithali’s 91* became the highest knock by any Indian in Women’s World Cup (which was later broken by first Thirush Kamini and then Harmanpreet Kaur in 2013 World Cup), the highest run by any Indian Skipper in WWC and highest knock by any Indian in knock-out game in Women’s World Cup.

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3. 75 * against Srilanka in a Group Match of Women’s World Cup 2009, 12/3/2009, Sydney.
One player always has a favourite opponent against whom he/she likes to play, score runs. And as per as Queen of Indian cricket is concerned it’s none other than Srilanka against which she scored at an average of 154.33.

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Top 5 half-century moments of Mithali Raj
Now if one asks why I have chosen this to write about, I would request them to have a look at the scorecard of the match. When only 7 players in the match managed to reach the double figures and among those 7 players only 3 managed to score at a strike –rate of more than 50 in that match, I think Mithali’s 75 run of 120 balls was innings of the worth of gold.

Decided to bat first – none of the player, except Raj and Jhulan looked in comfort against the Srilankan bowlers. And though Raj only hit a single boundary in her innings of 75, was the 55% of the total run that Team India made (137).

In reply, Srilanka bowled out for just 102 and thus made India victorious by 35 runs. Again it was not that kind of an innings in which you wave your posters or placards to cheer the fours and sixes, but on a pitch like that, it’s the sensible innings that always matters rather than going for the glory. She played for the team, not for the spectators.

4. 94* against England in the 1st match of the series, 1/7/2012, Lords.
Known as ‘Mecca of Cricket’, Lords, witnessed one of the greatest innings of World Cricket in 2004 when Md. Kaif and Yuvraj Singh led the Indian team to the famous victory and on 1st July Women Cricket witnessed another fine inning by Mithali Raj which guided Indian team to win the match by 5 wickets and take the 1-0 lead.

Top 5 half-century moments of Mithali Raj

Winning the toss, England decided to bat first and put up 229 runs to defend.

As India came out to bat, another feather added to the colorful cap of Raj. Meshram got out in the 8th over of the innings when the score was only 21. India leading on the broad shoulders of Raj hoped for a match-winning inning from her and she fulfilled the expectation. First with Punam Raut and then with Harmanpreet Kaur she founded the winning base and then went on building the monument of victory over it. Those partnerships of 106 and 89 respectively with Raut (60) and Kaur (50) sealed the match for India. Her innings of 94* of 111 balls only witnessed 6 fours but this automatically implied how hard she had fought to make this run.

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She not only relied on the boundaries but also kept the scoreboard running with singles and doubles. It was not that kind of glamorous innings, full of fours and sixes, but this innings shed the light on a perfect example of mature innings, described the composure of Mithali Raj.

5. 89 against Australia in the 3rd match of the series, 7/2/2016, Hobart.
Already lost the series, India faced Australia in the 3rd and the final match at Hobart. Desperately looking for a victory and secure two points in the championship, India had to field first as Australia won the toss and decided to bat first. Australia reached to a respectable total of 231 because of Blackwell’s 60 and Perry’s 50. Chasing quite a difficult total of 232 to win, India lost Veda Krishnamurthy in the 7th over. ‘She’ came out to bat then. And first with opener Smriti and then with Harmanpreet Kaur, she made two useful partnerships of 58 and 71 respectively to lead the way to the victory. In her knock of 89 in which she eventually missed the century she deserved, she helped the ball to cross the boundary 12 times. Though she got run out due to the misunderstanding between her and Punam Raut but her effort was enough to give India a deserving victory and 2 points. India won by 5 wickets and she was judged Player of the match.

Top 5 half-century moments of Mithali Raj

As I have said before, I don’t have enough space to discuss each and every fifty that Mithali Raj has hit till date, I have chosen some of the innings from decent past because we might have forgotten them. I could have easily chosen recent innings, but they are still new to our memories we cherish. Though there are many more innings left to discuss I have chosen those which have the most impact on the team depending on the tournament and the context of the match. One may differ with me obviously and they might have other favorite innings played by Mithali Raj. Do comment down those innings and let’s have more light on them.

One thing for sure, being a fan of her we are looking forward to witness several records like: the first-ever woman to complete 6000 runs or first ever woman to reach 50 fifties, be achieved by Mithali Raj in the 2017 women’s World Cup.

* List of Mithali Raj’s 48 Half centuries against all countries.


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