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Recently, Mithali Raj became the first Indian cricketer and Asian female cricketer to complete a thousand runs in Twenty20 International cricket. The accomplishment of the 31-year-old, who has been the torchbearer of Indian Women’s cricket for more than a decade now, like every other time was ignored. Sudatta Mukherjee questions why over and over again we tend to ignore our women cricketers.
Discarded Indian opener Gautam Gambhir stands tall in the list of most runs scored in Twenty20 internationals by an Indian male cricketer, till now. However, there is another Indian who has scored more runs than him in the shortest format of the game.
Just in case you’re curious, the name is that of Mithali Raj. Recently, Mithali became the first Indian cricketer to complete a thousand T20 international runs from 42 matches at an average of 34.50 (once again, higher than Gambhir’s). The feat, as it almost always happens with Women’s Cricket, has gone unnoticed. All that came in the newspapers were India women losing to their Sri Lankan counterparts in their first match of the ICC Women’s World T20 2014 match.
Mithali, who is 31-years old and has been playing cricket since 1999, is one of the finest women cricketers of the world. For a woman playing the shortest format of the game, which demands a lot of energy, she has been exceptional. Yet, seldom do the female cricketers get the same kind of admiration, respect or encouragement as their male counterparts.
Most of us know that New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum is 21 runs away from completing 2,000 T20I runs in career. However, hardly anyone knows that England women skipper Charlotte Edwards is 35 runs away from completing 2,000 T20I runs. New Zealand’s next match is on March 29 and England women play against India on March 26. There is a high possibility that Edwards could well become the first cricketer in history to score 2,000 T20I runs in career. But will she get the same kind of credit and recognition as the New Zealand skipper?
Here is a list of Indian cricketers and where they stand on most runs in a career tally.
One can easily notice the Indian players Mithali has overtaken to reach such a feat. The list consists of the ICC World Cup 2011 Player of the Tournament Yuvraj Singh, the Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and three former Indian captains in the form of Gambhir, Suresh Raina, and Virat Kohli. Ranking above them is Mithali. She averages more than Gambhir, Raina, Yuvraj, Dhoni and even Rohit. In the last five T20s Mithali has played, she has scored two unbeaten half-centuries and was short of scoring another by eight runs.
India Women are playing ICC World T20 alongside their male counterparts. It would have been a great boost and encouragement for the women if the media and people all over the country showed and showered even a little fragment of fanaticism they have for the India men’s team, despite their poor performance since December 2013.
Sometimes that little pat on the back can make you perform out of your skin. Let us give it a try.
(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)
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