Mithali Raj: 37 interesting facts about India’s best batswoman

Born, December 3, 1982, Mithali Dorai Raj is an Indian women’s cricketer and one of the most important players of the team since she made her debut in One-Day International (ODIs) in 1999. Mithali started playing with the likes of Anjum Chopra and Purnima Rao but now she has become the most dependable batswoman for the team. She has performed well both as captain and player. On her birthday, Abhishek Kumar digs out 37 interesting facts about the woman who is also called as ‘Lady Sachin’.

Besides cricket

1. Initially a dancer Before cricket, Mithali was into classical dancing. During her childhood and teenage days, she learnt Bharatnatyam and wanted make her name in the same field. But it seems she was destined for something else and later she became one of the most successful players of Indian women’s cricket team.

2. Lazy girl Cricket was never Mithali’s first choice, infact it was never on her to-do list. Her parents introduced Mithali to cricket because she was very lazy and since her father was an officer in Indian Air Force, he wanted his daughter to be disciplined and active. In an interview with BCCI, Mithali said, “From the beginning I played cricket only to make my parents happy.”

3. If not a cricketer In an interview with SportsKeeda, Mithali revealed what she would have been if not a cricketer and quipped, “I would have been in civil services. Though I loved Bharatanatyam and pursued it quite seriously, I would have loved to get into the civil services.”

4. Lady Sachin When Mithali became the second female cricketer to cross 5000 ODI runs, twitterati started calling her as ‘Lady Sachin’.

Debut facts

5. Mithali scored unbeaten 114 runs on her debut match against Ireland Womens team in 1999, which is third highest score made by a woman cricketer in her ODI debut after Lynne Thomas (134 in 1973) and Nicole Bolton (124 in 2014). In the same match, along with Mithali, Reshma Gandhi also scored an unbeaten ton, which was also her debut ODI. Reshma scored her century first, so she became the first Indian to score a hundred in ODI debut, followed by Mithali in the same match.

6. When she made her debut against Ireland, Mithali was just 16 years and 250 days old. This made her the youngest women’s cricketer to score a hundred on her debut in ODIs.

7. There have been only five woman cricketers who have scored hundred on debut and Mithali is the fourth player after Enid Bakewell, Lynne Thomas and Reshma Gandhi.

8. Mithali was the part of Indian women’s best partnership in ODIs and that too in her debut match by scoring unbeaten 114 runs along with her partner Reshma who made 104 not out. Their partnership of unbroken 258 runs is the third best for any wicket and second best for first wicket. 

Most runs, ODIs and best average

9. With 6, 190 runs in ODIs, currently Mithali is the highest run scorer ahead of Charlotte Edwards (5,992 runs).

10. With 186 ODIs, she is the second most capped ODI women’s cricketer in the world after Charlotte Edwards (191).

11. Out of 158 matches, she has played 109 consecutive matches for Indian women’s team, which is the most by any women’s cricketer.

12. In her long career of 17-years, which is still going, Mithali has scored most runs in the year 2006. She played 23 matches that year and amassed 684 runs at 45.60.

13. Out of her 186 ODIs, Mithali has played most against England and scored her most runs too against them. She has played 49 matches against England in which she has scored 1,622 runs at 47.70.

14. Mithali is also known as one of the most consistent bashers of Sri Lanka Women’s cricket team, as she has scored 803 runs in 23 matches at mind-boggling average of 160.60.

15. She averages 51.58 in ODIs, which is the second best amongst the players who have played more than 35 matches in their career.  

Hundreds, nineties and fifties

16. Throughout her career, she has got five centuries in ODIs, which is the most any Indian women’s cricketer.

17. Besides centuries, she holds the records for most 90s in her career. Like her hundreds, Mithali has got five 90s, which is the most by any women’s cricketer.

18. After most hundreds and most 90s, how can Mithali not be in the list of scoring most 50s? After Charlotte Edwards (55), Mithali has scored most 50s with 45 career half-centuries.  

Duck facts  

19. There have been only four instances when Mithali has got out on duck in ODIs, which is the joint second-least number of ducks by any women’s cricketer who has played 100 or more ODIs.

20. Mithali also holds the second best record of most consecutive innings without a duck with 74 innings after Karen Rolton (104).  

World Cup facts

21. Till now, Mithali has played in five World Cup tournaments, in which she has scored 1,139 runs at an average of 54.23, which is the third best average in World Cups after Sarah Taylor and Karen Rolton (among the players who have played 10 or more matches in the tournament ).

22. She has also scored nine fifties in her five World Cup tournament appearances, which is the best by any Indian women’s cricketer and joint third-most after Debbie Hockley (12), Charlotte Edwards (11), Karen Rolton (9).

23. In 2013 Women’s World Cup, Mithali scored her best score of unbeaten 103 not out against Pakistan Women’s team, which is third highest score by an Indian women cricketer in world cup match after Harmanpreet Kaur (171* and 107* not out).  

Captaincy facts

24. Mithali became the captain of Indian Women’s cricket team in 2004 and ever since, she has led the side in 90 ODIs, which is the most by any Indian woman cricketer and third overall after Charlotte Edwards (117) and Belinda Clark (101) .

25. Out of 90, she has captained in 57 consecutive matches which is the second best by any captain after Belinda Clark (58).

26. She is also the youngest captain for Indian women’s cricket team and seventh overall. Mithali became the captain at a very young age of 21 years and 4 days.

27. Under her captaincy, Indian Women’s cricket team won their first Test series against England in 2006 and that too on their home soil by 1-0 margin.

28. In 2005 Women’s World Cup, she led the team to final for the first time, though they lost the match.

29. Between 2005 and 2008, she led the team in three Asia Cup tournaments and all three were won by Indian women’s cricket team.  

Test facts

30. In her third Test, Mithali scored 214 runs and broke the previous best record of most runs in an innings of Karen Rolton (209 not out) on August 16, 2002. After two years, Kiran Baluch of Pakistan women’s cricket team broke Mithali’s record by scoring 242.

31. She has played only 10 Tests but still her average is unquestionable at 51. This is also the best average by any Indian woman cricketer in Tests.

Twenty20 International (T20I) facts

32. So far, she has played 62 T20Is for India in which she averages 36.33, which is the second best by any woman cricketer in the world after Sarah Taylor, who averages 37.92.

33. She has also scored nine fifties, which is the most by any Indian women’s cricketer in T20I format.

34. She is currently holding the fifth position in women’s T20I batting ranking with 599 points and 3rd in ODIs with 715 points.

Awards and Accolades

35. In the year 2003, she was given the prestigious Arjuna Award by Government of India.

36. In April 2015, she became the first female cricketer to win the Wisden India Cricketer of the Year.

37. In the same year, Mithali was honoured by India’s fourth highest civilian award — Padma Shri.

(Abhishek Kumar is a cricket devotee currently staffing with CricLife and CricketCountry.com. He can be followed at @abhik2593)