Mithali Raj: Indian cricket’s treasured gem
Mithali Raj has the highest ODI average in Women’s cricket © Getty Images
By Bharath Ramaraj
The Jodhpur-born Mithali Raj’s pristine batting takes fans and scribes to the quaint charms of bygone days of world cricket. She is gift-wrapped with that ability to pierce the gaps with chronometric timing and precision.
It was in 2002 when Mithali’s wondrous timing and placement came to the fore. That year she passed the litmus test of facing arguably a fine English attack, and broke the world record for the highest individual score in Tests at the scenic Taunton ground. The exquisite placement on view even made English journalists pen eloquently about her exploits.
If we look back at her career with a bird’s eye-view, Mithali started on a bang by amalgamating a century in her first One-Day International (ODI) against Ireland. However, the next game she played on a typical Manchester day with grey clouds around against England, Mithali’s world came crashing down with a huge thud, as she couldn’t open her account. Just like a true champion though, she came back stronger by compiling truckload of runs.
To give a glimpse of Mithali’s batting, one can fondly remember her masterful innings that she played against England at Lord’s in 2012. In that game, she shepherded an inexperienced batting line-up with a rock-solid technique twinned with dexterous strokes. It was her cool, calm and collected approach that took India to a superb win.
Mithali has also been a fine captain of the Indian side. The unassuming cricketer led India Women to the final of the 2005 World Cup against Australia at Wanderers, Johannesburg. Australia, though, proved to be too good for India in the final. Even in 2009, it was largely Mithali’s performance that took India to semi-final.
However, in the 2013 edition held at home, she had to go through the pain and agony of watching India crash out of the tournament during the group stage. She still scripted India’s facing saving win against Pakistan with a well-measured knock.
Mithali isn’t someone who drools much on past disappointments, as for her it is all about amassing mountains of runs and taking India to dizzying heights. Just recently, she compiled a century against Sri Lanka in an ODI. It has to be also remembered that she has the highest average in the abridged version of the game.
In short, it is hard to envisage an Indian team without Mithali Raj. Now that in itself gives an inkling about the treasured gem of women’s cricket.
On a side note, Mithali Raj is also a trained Bharatanatyam dancer.
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)