From Bharatnatyam dancer to International Cricketer: How Mithali's 'Raj' played crucial role in Indian Cricket

From Bharatnatyam dancer to International Cricketer: How Mithali's 'Raj' played crucial role in Indian Cricket

The place in Indian cricket that belongs to Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Mithali Raj's name is also taken with equal respect in women's cricket.

India's veteran female cricketer Mithali Raj has bid adieu to international cricket on Wednesday after making a significant contribution to popularising the women's game during a storied 23-year-long career. The place in Indian cricket that belongs to Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virat Kohli, and Mithali Raj's name is also taken with equal respect in women's cricket.

Mithali's Initial Days

Mithali was born in a Tamil family in Jodhpur, Rajasthan and started playing cricket at the age of 10 and after 7 years she was part of the Indian team. In her very first One Day International match, she scored a century against Ireland. Mithali Raj wanted to become a Bharatanatyam dancer as a child, but her father, who was an officer in the Air Force, encouraged her to play cricket. After that gradually she started moving towards her goal of playing for the nation. She is also fond of reading books and is often seen reading a book in the dugout or pavilion during the match.

Mithali's Leadership

Mithali Raj has been one of the most successful captains of India. Under her captaincy, India made it to the final of the ICC World Cup twice. In 2005, India had to face defeat at the hands of Australia in the tournament hosted by South Africa, while the hosts defeated it in the World Cup title match held in England last year. In 2006, India won the Asia Cup under the captaincy of Mithali.

Feathers On Her Cap

Mithali has played cricket for India in all three formats of Test, ODI and T20. She was named among the probable at the 1997 Women's Cricket World Cup, when she was just 14 years old, but could not make it to the final squad. She made his One Day International debut against Ireland at Milton Keynes in 1999 and scored an unbeaten 114. She made her Test debut in the 2001–02 season against South Africa at Lucknow. On 17 August 2002, at the age of 19, in his third Test, she broke Karen Rolton's record for the world's highest individual Test score of 209 and set a new high of 214 in the second and final Test in the county against England. Since then this record was broken by Kiran Baluch of Pakistan by scoring 242 runs against West Indies.

In February 2017, Mithali became the second player to score 5,500 runs in women's ODIs. She is the first player to captain the most number of matches for India in ODIs and T20Is. In July 2017, she became the first player to score 6,000 runs in women's ODIs. She led the Indian team to the final of the 2017 Women's Cricket World Cup where the team lost to England by nine runs. In December 2017, she was nominated for the ICC Women's ODI Team of the Year.

Some Prestigious Awards

Mithali Raj was awarded the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2003, just five years after making her international debut. In April 2015, she became the first female cricketer to win the Wisden India Cricketer of the Year. In the same year, he was awarded the 'Padma Shri'.

From Bharatnatyam dancer to International Cricketer: How Mithali's 'Raj' played crucial role in Indian Cricket
Mithali Raj becomes first-ever woman cricketer to feature in 6 ODI World Cups

In November 2021, President Ram Nath Kovind honored Mithali with the country's highest sporting honour, the Khel Ratna. Mithali Raj became the fifth cricketer in the country and the first woman cricketer to have been given this honour.

The 39-year-old made her international debut in 1999 against Ireland and featured in 232 ODIs, 89 T20Is and 12 Tests for India. She retires as the most-capped Indian women's cricketer and one of the leading run-scorers in women's international cricket.

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