What did Sachin Tendulkar tell Mithali Raj in their first meeting in 2002?

Former Indian women’s team skipper, Mithali Raj, went down memory lane ahead of cricketing great, Sachin Tendulkar’s 50th birthday. During a conversation with Press Trust of India (PTI), Mithali recalled how Sachin helped her find her mojo, their first meet from back in 2002, and a lot more.

Sachin Tendulkar and Mithali Raj
Sachin Tendulkar and Mithali Raj

Mithali Raj and Sachin Tendulkar served Indian cricket on the international stage for 24 and 23 years respectively, and Mithali when met Sachin in 2017, ahead of the Women’s World Cup in England, didn’t miss out on picking the brains of the retired legend on footwork and hand-eye coordination.

Quoting, Mithali Raj, “When you have such a long career, every generation has stand-out bowlers, I wanted to know how he kept up with that. After a certain age, people start commenting on your footwork getting slower, you are picking the line and length late and you are not quick on the ball. I wanted to know how he managed to overcome all that and be on top of his game. He did give suggestions and I tried to put that into training.”

Mithali touched on not having been a crazy cricket fan as she was busy playing the game but would watch Sachin’s batting highlights to learn a few shots, especially, the full bat face shots and the art of playing right arm leg spin.

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Quoting, Mithali Raj, “I was never able to watch cricket like a crazy fan as I was busy playing. I would watch the highlights if I had to watch a particular shot of his or how he played Shane Warne as playing a leggie is so tough for a right-hand batter. Something which really hit me that he how he plays every shot with the full face of the bat, whether it is his cover drive or straight drive. I especially like the one he plays on the up through the point region.”

Mithali first met Sachin in 2002 when she broke the record for the highest individual score in women’s Test cricket. Women’s cricket back then struggled for recognition and facilities, and Mithali recalled how a keen Sachin Tendulkar inquired about the wickets they play on and the facilities they had.

Quoting, Mithali Raj, “In 2002, I was recognised at the Castrol awards which used to be for male cricketers. I was invited there. He (Tendulkar) came across as someone who was very curious about how we trained, what kind of facilities we had. We were under WCAI back then, not BCCI. He wanted to know if I was playing a lot on matting wickets or turf wickets.

“We were playing mostly on matting wickets. He said playing on matting wickets has its advantages and it is good for your backfoot play. He came across as a very positive person.”

(Quotes sourced from PTI)

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