Indian Skipper Mithali Raj: Over Two Decades Long Career Of The Undisputed Legend

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Mithali Raj Career: India women’s captain Mithali Raj made it back to the top five of the ICC Women’s ODI Player Rankings following her half-century in the ODI against England in Bristol. The formerly top-ranked batter returned to the top five for the first time since October 2019.

Indian skipper Mithali Raj, who has had the longest cricketing career in international cricket, gained three slots to grab fifth place after the Bristol knock. The 38-year-old played a 72-run innings off 108 balls in the first ODI which India lost by 8 wickets.

In a career spanning 22 years, the batting giant has proved her sheer dedication and emerged as an inspiration to the younger generation. She has reached the game’s pinnacle while setting remarkable records along the way.

Among the aplenty milestones that the right-handed batswoman has achieved, she is the only Indian Women’s team captain to have led the side to two 50-over World Cup finals.

How it all began for the ace player Mithali Raj

At an early age of 16, she made her debut in international cricket against Ireland in 1999 scoring a century. Born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, the professional Indian cricketer learned under the tutelage of her former coach, the late Sampath Kumar. However, she began playing when she was 10 and started off by playing domestic cricket for Railways.

Recently, during an interview on the eve of the Indian Women’s cricket team’s ODI match, she was asked what advice she would give a 16-year-old Mithali, to which she said, “It feels nice to get messages congratulating me on my career. The advice I would give the 16-year-old Mithali would be to just enjoy getting on to the ground for the first time representing your country, which clearly I didn’t then. I didn’t get the opportunity to understand the importance of wearing the Indian jersey as the expectations were so high on me to perform”.

At 19, she broke the record for the highest individual score in women’s Test cricket ever to be scored, previously held by Karen Rolton, by smashing a wall of 209 runs against England in their final match at County Ground in 2002. The following year, she was honoured with the Arjuna award for her remarkable contribution to the Indian women’s cricket team.

The Indian Women’s captain is considered among one of the luminaries to hail the game of cricket. Besides being a batting giant, she is also a fine bowler, specialising in Right-arm leg breaks.

The spectacular rise to glory

To top it all, Mithali has highest total runs to her credit among anyone in women’s international cricket as well as the only one to surpass the 6,000 run threshold in Women’s ODI.

Mithali Raj, who is regarded as one of the most prolific batters, became the first female cricketer to be conferred with the Wisden India Cricketers of the Year in 2015. Two years later, she marked another landmark achievement by becoming the first ever Indian player to have an overall score over 1,000 World Cup runs and 5th woman cricketer globally.

The Indian player secured the record for the highest number of ODIs played by a female cricketer (204), surpassing her contemporaries, England’s Charlotte Edwards (191) and India’s veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami with 178 matches.

In 2021, the Indian batter went past the 7,000-run mark during her partnership with Punam Raut in the fourth ODI in Lucknow and became the first woman cricketer to score highest runs in ODIs.

The all-time leading run-scorer for India in all formats is set to break Sachin Tendulkar’s longevity whose career spanned over 22 years 91 days.