In today`s world, when we talk about women’s empowerment, one of the names that come to our mind is of Mithali Raj. She is the role model for many young girls to fight hard against the odds and to take the career that you wish to pursue. She has this tremendous attitude of, “The question isn`t who`s going to let me; it`s who is going to stop me.”
Who is Mithali Raj?
Mithali Dorai Raj is the Indian Women`s Cricket Team Captain in Tests and ODI. She has been regarded as one of the best to have ever played the women`s cricket. This can be taken from the fact that the “The God Of Cricket”, Sachin Tendulkar, himself praised this girl from Telangana as a “tremendous athlete” and one of the best to ever play this game. India might have lost a close World Cup final against England last year but the Indian women’s are being praised not only in India but all over the globe. Mithali Raj, who leads the Indian Women`s Cricket Team was chosen as the Captain of the World Playing XI of 2017.
Early Days of Mithali Raj
Mithali Raj was born on 3rd December 1982 in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. She like his idol Sachin Tendulkar started playing at the age of 10 and made her debut in the international circuit at the age of 17 against the team of Ireland in the year 1999. She used to practice with boys in the Keyes Girls High School, Secunderabad and used to give them a tough fight and was often praised by them as a wonderful player.
Mithali Raj as an International Cricketer
Mithali Raj would have been the youngest player to have ever played cricket at the age of 14 in the international circuit if she would have made it to the 1997 World Cup when she was in the probable playing eleven. In her debut match itself, she scored a blistering 114 runs. She made her test debut two years later in the year 2001 against South Africa at Lucknow. She broke the world record of scoring the most runs in an innings of a test match of Karen Rolton`s 209* by scoring 214 against England. Her record, however, got broken in the year 2004 by Pakistan`s women cricketer, Kiran Baluch by scoring 242. She used to bowl leg-spin in the early days of his career but now majorly focuses on her batting.
Mithali Raj played her first Women`s World Cup in the year 2002. Along with the incredible batting skills she also has remarkable leadership qualities. She led India in the 2005 World Cup where Indian team reached the finals for the first time but lost against Australia. This marked a new beginning in women`s cricket in India. Her composure at the crease even during tough times and her confidence along with the ability to score runs at a brisk rate makes her one of the world`s best batsman to have ever played this game. India won her first ever test win and series win against England in England in the year 2006. Later, she went to lead Indian team to win the Asian Cup for the second time without even losing a single game in the entire tournament. She played her 6th World Cup this year in June and led the team for consecutive 5 World Cups. She scored the second highest runs in this World Cup and helped India reached the finals of the World Cup but couldn`t score well in the finals against England. India lost against England in a close finish which might be her last World Cup and she would have wanted to have won this one, the only cup which has stayed away from her in her tremendous career.
When asked about her role as captain of the team in an interview, she said, “As with me being the captain, I don`t try to show that I am the dominant force in the team. I try to be one among them. That is how you develop a rapport and be approachable as the captain. With this bunch of girls, I have made an effort to interact more, crack jokes with them and make them feel at ease”.
Mithali Raj is currently the No.1 batsman in the world with a rating of 703. She is the only batsman to have scored 6000+ runs in the women cricket with 6 hundred and 49 fifties in her close to a two-decade career. She has played 186 ODI matches, 63 T20I matches and 10 Tests matches for India. She held the record of scoring the highest number of runs by an individual in a World Cup ODI match when she scored 91* in 104 balls against New Zealand in Women`s World Cup 2005 which was broken in 2005 by Harmanpreet Kaur of India. She holds the record of scoring 7 consecutive half-centuries which is the most by any women cricketer. She holds the record of playing most number of Women`s One-Day International for a team (109). She is the first Indian and 5th women cricket to score more than 1000 runs in World Cups. She is the all-time leading run scorer for India in ODIs, Tests and T20Is. She is known as the “Tendulkar of India`s Women Cricket”.
Awards Mithali Raj won!
Mithali received the Arjuna Award in the year 2003 by the Government of India in recognition for her achievements in sports. In the year 2015, she received the Padma Shri which is India`s fourth highest civilian award.
She is and will always be remembered as the one who changed the entire women`s cricket era both on and off the field. Her passion and hard work have already made India one of the strong forces in women’s cricket. But off the field, she has always spoken about gender equality and what else needs to be done to bring the women`s cricket in equal with men’s cricket.
“I am always asked about how it feels to be referred to as ‘lady Sachin’. It is a huge honour if someone mentions your name with a legend like Tendulkar. But don`t get me wrong, my point is, why to compare men`s game and women`s games at all?”