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They all play that shot, but few can match the grace of Mithali Raj © Getty Images

Mithali Raj, born December 3, 1982, has been the fulcrum of the Indian batting line-up in the new millennium. One of the greatest batters of the era, Mithali made a career out of dominating hostile bowlers and coming to terms with the general ignorance of fans in India towards women’s cricket. Once hailed as a teenage prodigy, Mithali, along with Jhulan Goswami, has been the bridge between two contrasting eras of Indian women’s cricket. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at a living legend.

A star is born

It had been a wretched summer for the Indian girls. In the triangular tournament they were humbled thrice in four matches, while the other one had been washed out. They had scored 59, 26, and 95 in the three matches. They did slightly better in the one-off ODI against England: though they lost again (they at least got to 118).

The first Test at Shenley had been washed out as well. In the second, at Taunton, a teenager called Jhulan Goswami bowled at furious pace, reducing the hosts to 27 for 3, but Laura Newton (98) and Mandie Godliman (68) took the score to 329 — despite a long, probing spell from Neetu David.

Sunetra Paranjpe was trapped leg-before early in the innings. Mamatha Maben edged one off Clare (different from Claire) Connor. The score read 45 for 2 when a little, almost puny teenager walked out to join captain Anjum Chopra.

Mithali Raj had made her international debut three years back, against Ireland Women at Milton Keynes. She had opened batting with another debutant, wicketkeeper Reshma Gandhi. 50 overs later they returned, Reshma scoring 104 and Mithali 114. India Women finished on a near-unbelievable 258 without loss and won by 161 runs.

She got those runs every now and then after that. She played only thrice in the 2000-01 World Cup, but made an impact every time with 69*, 51, and 32. The first of the three came against South Africa; India scored 103 during her stay at the wicket. And in the third, against England, both Indian openers scored ducks before Mithali and Chanderkanta Kaul took India to 155; they won by 8 runs.

Test cricket, however, was another thing. She had been bowled for a duck by Dawn Holden in the only innings she had batted in her first Test, against England at Lucknow, thus earning the dubious distinction of becoming the first to score a hundred on debut in ODIs and a duck in Tests.

It took her two years to play another Test, this time at Paarl. She became one of five Indians to score first-innings fifties. South Africa Women barely saved the innings defeat. The little girl slowly found her groove, but she was yet to make it big against one of the big three: England, Australia, and New Zealand.

But we are digressing. Let us return to the match.

The more the frail-looking girl spent time in the middle, the more she gained confidence. It helped that Anjum was at the crease. Runs came in quick singles. By the time Anjum fell for 52, India had reached 100.

By this time Mithali had got her eye in, but she let Hemlata Kala play her shots. India finished Day Two at 156 for 3. Hemlata (31) had almost caught up with Mithali (43). The youngster was batting sensibly, but there was no indication of what was to follow.

Mithali took charge in the first session of Day Three. The same ground had witnessed Viv Richards and Ian Botham dispatching many a ball into the crowd, and often beyond, throughout the 1980s. There was none of that this time.

Mithali hit across the line with astonishing power for someone of her frame. Mithali ran like a gazelle. Mithali nudged the ball deftly into gaps. But startlingly, Mithali drove through cover the way no one has done before, as graceful as a ballerina yet as precise as a brain surgeon. It would become a trademark shot over years.

She lost Hemlata, Deepa Kulkarni (later Marathe), and Sulakshana Naik in quick succession, but found support in Jhulan. For well over the decade the two girls would carry the team on their shoulders. India were 297 for 6, still in arrears, albeit by a mere 32.

Over years Jhulan would be promoted time and again in limited-overs cricket. Those strong shoulders and forearms would result in brisk cameos. But, on that day, at Taunton, she knew she had a different role to play.

Mithali’s hundred came up as without much fuss. Then came the 150, sending statisticians scurrying through the records. Sandhya Agarwal’s Indian record of 190 was the first target. That was overhauled without much trouble.

The crowd, sparse as it was, jolted into attention once she reached that double-hundred. Would they witness history?

Kristy Bond (later Flavell) had broken Sandhya’s record in 1996. She had finished on 204. The record was equalled by Michelle Goszko, and later bettered by Karen Rolton, the year before. Karen had finished on 209.

This was what Mithali had waited for. She had woken up early, at the stroke of dawn. She had practised with the boys till her body could take no more, and beyond. Then there were those near-brutal fielding sessions that pushed her endurance limits beyond believable levels.

She had given up dance, her greatest passion, for this. She had given up studies for this.

The records fell one by one. Sandhya’s record went down. Shortly afterwards, Mithali became the fifth woman in history to score a Test double-hundred.

Then, at the fag end of the day, Mithali became the first Indian in 16 years to hold the record for the highest score in Women’s Test cricket. She finished the day on 210, having just claimed the world record.

Was she aware of being on the verge of a world record? Perhaps not, for she was playing for stumps when a substitute fielder ran in with instructions. A grateful Mithali would later tell CricketCountry: “I was too young at that time to actually realise about the record. It was our tour manager who sent a message through the 12th man to tell me that 209 was the previous record. That’s when I realised. Otherwise I didn’t have the faintest of idea. When I broke the record, more than anything else, I was too tired after batting for long.”

Anjum knew it alright.

George Hirst had mentioned fatigue after becoming the first and only cricketer to do the ‘double-double’ (2000 runs and 200 wickets) in a single season. Fred Trueman had done the same after becoming the first man to reach 300 Test wickets.

The little girl was no different.

By the time debutant Isa Guha would trap her leg-before the morning after, Mithali had batted for 10 hours, scoring 214 in 407 balls.

Mithali did not last long the last morning, falling LBW to Isa for a 407-ball 214. She had hit 19 boundaries, and incredibly for a 19-year-old, had batted for 10 hours.

The record would last for a mere two years. Kiran Baluch, playing what was incredibly her only Test, got 242. That still stands.

The next year she was honoured with The Arjuna Award.

The numbers tales

How good is Mithali Raj? Her 12-year-long career has allowed her to play 10 Tests. The double-hundred remains her only Test hundred, but there have been 4 fifties other than that. Her 663 runs have come at 51.

How good are these numbers? Put a 500-run cut-off, and Mithali ranks seventh in history. She tops the list among Indians, though just ahead of Sandhya (50.45) and Hemlata (50.30).

But then, unlike Australia, New Zealand, and England, India have never been a powerhouse of women’s cricket, and the top six slots all belong to the top three.

In ODIs, where India have played way more matches, Mithali has made 167 appearances. Her 5,407 runs have come at an astonishing 49.60. Put a 1,000-run mark, and she is next to only the Australians Lindsay Reeler and Meg Lanning, who have managed a mere 3,542 runs between them. Her 5 hundreds do not put her at the top, but 45 scores in excess of fifty put her at the second spot.

In T20Is, too, her 1,635 runs have come at 36.33 — next to only Stafanie Taylor’s 37.92. One should not compare these averages to that by their male counterparts, for women’s matches, especially limited-overs contests, are typically low-scoring.

Let me elaborate a bit. There have been 266 occasions in which a side has batted first, played all 20 overs, and scored less than 150. This has resulted in a win on 72 occasions, which amounts to 27%. In women’s cricket, the corresponding T20I numbers are 169 and 127 — in other words, a whopping 76%. You get the drift.

Let me add to this. Men, on an average, have averaged 20.86 in the history of T20Is, while women have managed 16.75 in T20Is; in other words, men have averaged a shade below 25% more. Let me use a simple, crude technique to compare the men and women in this version.

Top averages (top five men, top five women, 1,000+ runs)

Player Ave Weighted
Virat Kohli 57.13 57.13
Stafanie Taylor 37.92 47.22
Mithali Raj 36.33 45.24
Charlotte Edwards 32.97 41.06
Meg Lanning 32.00 39.85
JP Duminy 38.46 38.46
Sarah Taylor 30.20 37.61
Kevin Pietersen 37.93 37.93
Faf du Plessis 37.68 37.68
MS Dhoni 35.87 35.87

Unfortunately, the strike rates are not available for several women’s matches, which makes the comparison tough for the other parameter, but the averages do tell a part of the story.

Note: The corresponding value in ODIs is 38%, but the numbers are not comparable, for women’s cricket line-ups have had a tendency to be top-heavy for ODIs. Let me try to elaborate. Mithali has scored 17% (over a sixth) runs for India in the history of Women’s ODIs. The top five Indians have accounted for 42%. For men the corresponding numbers are 10% (Sachin Tendulkar) and 32%.

But you get the gist. Across formats, Mithali is the greatest Indian batter in the history of Women’s cricket. She is also one of the greatest across nations, and probably the greatest when one looks beyond the top three.

The journey, however, has not been easy. It goes back a long, long way.

Of stumps and stones

When she was a child, all Mithali wanted to become was a Bharatnatyam dancer. She also loved her morning sleep, as she would later tell Shashank Kishore of The Cricket Monthly. That was not a habit Dorai Raj, her father, a retired Air Force Sergeant, was likely to tolerate.

Mithali was dragged to her brother Mithun’s cricket practice sessions. She did not think much of the sport, though she did throw the ball back if she got bored. She also got a knock or two when the boys were through.

They were not ordinary strokes, as they would later tell you. Mithali’s untrained yet fluent strokeplay was exemplary even at that age. The talent was there. It had to be harnessed.

The first incident of note happened when she was eight. “I went on a summer vacation where I was the only girl. Naturally they all played cricket, and being the only girl, I got preference when it came to batting,” she told CricketCountry.

She was good enough to play with the boys, but she needed a mentor. When her father took Mithali to coach Sampath Kumar, the experienced eyes knew immediately. He insisted Mithali stuck to cricket. She even promised Dorai Raj that Mithali would play for India by fourteen.

It got so hectic that Mithali had to quit Bharatnatyam after eight years of formal training. “They took most career decisions for me when I was young. I became a cricketer because they wanted me to be one,” she later told CricketCountry.

That was not all. She would later tell The Cricket Monthly: “They [her parents] didn’t give me an idea that there had to be a Plan B. They trained me like a racehorse. I wasn’t allowed to see right or left … I didn’t attend family gatherings, for cricket’s sake. Even today I’m not as close to my cousins as I am to my teammates. I missed out on school excursions, school days…”

India got her batting superstar alight. And as is almost always the case, it stripped a child of an ordinary childhood.

 She batted for hours, sometimes with a stump. She even cut and pulled using a stump. Her coach hit her with a stump if she missed one or the strokes went awry. She even batted past dusk to get accustomed to bad light.

Then there were those near-brutal fielding sessions. She was not allowed to take fielding lightly after those long net sessions. If she lost focus, she was asked to catch stones instead of the cricket ball. The hands became sore. If one of her hands gave in, Sampath Kumar tied it behind her back; she had to catch them one-handed.

“I was forced into something I didn’t like,” she told Nihal Koshie of The Indian Express.

To be fair, the parents, Dorai and Leela, sacrificed as much, spending hours at the ground and calming the little girl as she returned from yet another day’s practice, sore, tired, sometimes in tears. Her father refused a promotion at Andhra Bank, his workplace after his days at The Air Force. Her mother woke up at three to make her breakfast and pack her lunch.

Mamatha, who had witnessed Mithali’s formative days, would later acknowledge in her Sportskeeda column: “Her father used to sit and discuss with her the technical aspects of the game.  Not to be left behind, her mother would make sure that she did all her follow-up work at home.”

Talent. Check. Guidance. Check. Sacrifices. Check. Rigour. Check. How could she possibly have failed?

And little Mithali ran, for miles and miles, outliving crushed dreams, smashing records, taking on the finest of bowlers, and surviving a nationwide ignorance towards women’s cricket… © Getty Images
And little Mithali ran, for miles and miles, outliving crushed dreams, smashing records, taking on the finest of bowlers, and surviving a nationwide ignorance towards women’s cricket… © Getty Images

Paradise gained at Milton Keynes

Mithali rose through the ranks at breakneck pace, making a smooth transition from one age-group level to another. She even made it to the shortlist for the 1997 World Cup when the big blow came: a motorcycle accident that took Sampath Kumar away. The second blow came when they did not pick her for the World Cup. But then, was she not a mere 15?

Most would have crumbled at that age, but not Mithali. It helped that Diana Edulji helped her sign up for Railways as a clerk. For Railways, Mithali rubbed shoulders with the who’s who of Indian cricket of the era.

Sri Lanka Women came in the winter of 1998. The matches were not given Test or ODI status, which meant that the debut was pushed back. Unperturbed, she kept scoring runs and finished with 245 runs at 81.67. This included 84* and 101 in consecutive innings.

The Milton Keynes innings mentioned above came on the tour of British Isles the following summer. She failed against England in the next 2 ODIs, but the experience was invaluable.

Lucy Pearson turned out to be her nemesis on the tour. Tall and intimidating, Lucy got Mithali for a 29-ball 4 and a 22-ball duck. Mithali hit a boundary in the first ODI, which meant that she could not score 50 of the 51 balls she faced.

Mithali later confessed: “She was tall, 3 or 4 inches taller than even Jhulan. She got bounce from that height, and moved the ball both ways. I would say she is the only bowler who has bothered me on a consistent basis.”

Mithali also got an idea of the culture prevalent in the Indian team of the era: “When I made my debut I was the only kid in the team. Almost everyone else was nearly double my age, which meant I had to reach out to them… There was a certain difference between the seniors and juniors. You, as a kid, could not go and put your arm around the shoulder of a senior.”

It was a different atmosphere altogether from what we see on television now (if the telecasters bother, that is). It was an era when India Women played more but earned less, next to nothing. There was no franchise to pick them up. Television coverage was limited, more limited than what it is now. And almost everyone was forced to have a career outside cricket.

There were big names, very big names. Little Mithali was in awe, but she adjusted quickly as the only child — for a child she was — among grown-ups. It helped that Jhulan would arrive on the scenario in two years’ time.

Back home she got into a run-scoring spree in Under-19 cricket. It was an unfair contest, age-group cricketers trying to get a girl destined to become the greatest in Indian history.

At a mere 16, Mithali was ready for the big stage © Getty Images
At a mere 16, Mithali was ready for the big stage © Getty Images

Runs came in fifties and hundreds. The Taunton hundred had propelled Mithali to the next level, but she refused to remain complacent with that. Between July 2002 and April 2004 she reached double-figures in 20 consecutive innings. The run was broken by 3* and 2, following which she had another streak of 6.

In between all this, Mithali was appointed deputy to Mamatha. When Mamatha missed the fourth ODI of the 2003-04 home series against West Indies (at Lucknow), Mithali walked out to toss for the first time in India colours. She responded to the challenge with a 78-ball 88 and led the hosts to a win.

She led India in the 2005 World Cup in South Africa. India put up a gallant show, reaching the final for the first, and till date, only time. In fact, till 2013, they were the only side outside the big three to make it to the final. They lost the final to Australia, but there is no doubt that it remains India’s best show at the biggest tournament.

The crème la crème came in the semi-final against New Zealand, when Mithali found herself at the crease at 38 for 2 in the 14th over. At the other end was Anjum, her former captain and partner-in-crime. They needed a partnership.

The 66-run stand was slow but crucial. By then Mithali had taken things in her own hand. India lost 3 for 39 in 45 balls; Mithali’s partners managed a mere 6 between them during this period.

Mithali eventually remained unbeaten on a 104-ball 91. With Hemlata and Jhulan playing a few big shots, India reached 204 for 6. New Zealand were bowled out for 164 by Amita Sharma, Nooshin Al Khadeer, and the woman Mithali calls the greatest spinner she has seen — Neetu David.

It remained the highest score by an Indian Woman in a World Cup till 2013.

The tournament was impactful in more ways than one. Following the tournament was Veda Krishnamurthy, then a little girl of 12. When her school felicitated Mithali, Veda actually fought with her classmates backstage: how can she not hand over the bouquet herself?

Veda would later tell Purnima Malhotra of Cricbuzz: “It was the year I had started playing cricket. I had only heard about her till then, never met her. I knew she was the captain of the Indian cricket team and the best batter in the world, probably.”

She was not the only one. A generation of schoolgirls were pursuing the dream of playing for India, of winning the World Cup for them.

A tale of two Tests

Mithali was back at her beloved Taunton four years after the epic, this time as captain. India had saved the first Test of the two-match series, at Grace Road. Asked to chase 271 or bat out five hours, India were left reeling at 50 for 5 after the first hour.

Then the defiance began. A win was ruled out at this stage, but Karu Jain batted for another hour. Rumeli Dhar and Amita got fifties. Nooshin played a crucial cameo. And India finished on 187 for 8.

She scored 65 and Anjum 98 at Taunton as India put up 307. Then came that burst from Jhulan, reducing England to 22 for 3. They never recovered, and were skittled out for 99, Jhulan taking 5 for 33.

England batted again. Jhulan took 5 again, this time for 45. But Charlotte Edwards’s 105 took the hosts to 305. India reached 71 for 2 during their pursuit of 98 before they stuttered. Three quick wickets fell, and England sniffed a chance at 74 for 5.

Mithali Raj sweeps on her way to 65 during that historic win at Taunton © Getty Images
Mithali Raj sweeps on her way to 65 during that historic win at Taunton © Getty Images

The English fielders had sledged the Indians throughout the series. Mithali’s girls gave it back to them, but things were certainly not easy for Reema Malhotra, who joined Mithali after the fall of the fifth wicket during the chase at Taunton.

Reema consulted her captain. Mithali later told BBC in an interview: “A distraught Reema walked to me and I told her to simply giggle at them. Truly, they were put off by her response.”

Mithali masterminded the chase with a calm, unbeaten 22 and Reema got 12. The series was claimed 1-0. India Women were scaling heights they never had.

India played their next Test in England, this time at Wormsley (in 2014). There was no Test cricket for them for eight years.

Reflecting at her career, Mithali is philosophical about the massive chasm: “The gap came after the first four years of my career. Till that point I had only played 8 Tests, most of which were one-off series. So it was not that I was missing something big. In the meantime we kept on playing ODIs; then T20Is came…”

At Wormsley England were shot out for 92, this time by Jhulan’s new-ball partner Niranjana Nagarajan (4 for 25). Malaria had kept Niranjana out of the World Cup the year before. She announced her arrival all right.

The youngsters, Thirushkamini MD (now Shankar) and Smriti Mandhana, added 40 for the opening stand, but India were left reeling against Jenny Gunn and Kate Cross. Contributions came from Niranjana and Jhulan, and India secured a slender 22-run lead.

England rebuilt as Jhulan kept denting their line-up. She finished with 4 for 48, but could not stop England from reaching 202, Jenny leading the charge with 62 not out. India Women were set 183.

Once again Thirushkamini (28) and Smriti (51) came good, this time putting up 76. The hundred came up, but Poonam Raut and Harmanpreet Kaur fell in quick succession: . India were reduced to 115 for 4.

At 31 Mithali was suddenly the veteran of the side. Somewhere down the line, Mithali had been promoted to Mithali Di in the team. Barring Jhulan, Karu, and Mithali, all eight Indians had made their Test debuts in the match. Just like in her last Test at Taunton eight years back, Mithali had to mastermind the chase.

Shikha Pandey came to her aid. As Mithali took charge in the middle, Niranjana made sure nobody changed places or got up in the dressing room. Was this not what all of them had been waiting for?

There was a sense of inevitability as Mithali absorbed the pressure with nonchalant ease. She had no problem playing out maiden after maiden, keeping an eye for the single, opening up only when there was a loose delivery.

The English bowlers bowled their heart out, but Mithali and Shikha stayed firm. The Indian dressing- room erupted when Shikha cover-drove Natalie Sciver to bring up the winning runs. They ran, Niranjana leading them, Jhulan Di behind her…

Shikha Pandey celebrates as India return to Test cricket with a resounding victory at Wormsley; captain Mithali Raj is typically shy © Getty Images

That winter India steamrolled South Africa at Mysore, Thirushkamini (192) and Poonam (130) adding a massive 275 for the second wicket. Mithali declared on 400 for 6 (she scored a 51-ball 37), and Harmanpreet, with 5 for 44 and 4 for 41, helped bowl out the tourists for 234 and 132.

India Women are yet to play another Test, and are not likely to in near future, but that does not affect Mithali. As always, she understands: “Even Men’s Tests do not get as much attention as ODIs and T20Is. Given the fact that Women’s cricket is not as popular as Men’s, the probability of Women’s Tests becoming a hit is not very high.”

Mithali finished her Test career with 3 wins and 1 defeat from 6 Tests. Put a 5-Test cut-off, and only 6 captains have bettered her win-loss ratio. In the new millennium only Belinda Clark has identical numbers (but not more); but then, Belinda, Mithali, Clare Connor, and Charlotte are the only ones to lead their side in 5 or more Tests in this century.

The Raj of Mithali

The eight-year hiatus was followed by two victories and nothingness, but that did not deter the Mithali brigade from delivering goods in coloured clothes.

Mithali led from the front, and did so with panache. Between 2012-13 and 2013-14 she had a run of 103*, 34*, 31*, 104*, and 34. In short, she amassed 306 runs between dismissals. The lean patches came, but they were too infrequent to question her supremacy.

Mithali had broken through to the top 10 in ICC Women’s ODI rankings in February 2003. She is yet to be displaced from there. From 2004 she has been a regular feature in the top three, making it to No. 1 in 2005. She had dropped from the top spot but has regained her supremacy time and again, and has never dropped to below 5.

The T20I numbers are not too different. It took her 2 matches to break through to the top 10, and she has not dropped out ever since. She had reached the top spot in 2011.

There was a slump just before the 2008-09 World Cup. She had failed in the preceding ODI series. She had decided to retire after the tournament, and even insisted her mother looked for a groom.

But runs came in a deluge: with 59, 75*, 44, 21, 33*, and 15 Mithali took India by storm. She got her 247 runs at 61.75. Of Indians Anjum (164) and Anagha Deshpande (146) were the only others to go past the 100-run mark, and both averaged below 30.

Mithali Raj: the other Indian captain © Getty Images

India came third (they defeated Australia in the third-place playoff), but more importantly, the tournament was telecast live back in India. Mithali later told The Indian Express: “People actually saw what women’s cricket was about … There was recognition for the players and the sport. Personal satisfaction of playing the game was there, but at the same time, you want people to acknowledge you at some point.”

All thoughts about retirement went out of the window. Mithali continued to bat well past the middle of the next decade, and was rewarded with the Padma Shri in 2015.

Her greatest moment as captain came in 2015-16 in Australia, when she became the first captain, male or female, to lead India to a victory in a bilateral series against Australia at their den.

Barring the 32-ball unbeaten 37 in the second match at MCG, Mithali herself did little of note in the T20I series, but the young guns shared the responsibility along with Mithali and Jhulan (who did brilliantly in every match). Thus, Poonam, Smriti, Veda, and Harmanpreet shone at Adelaide; Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Smriti at MCG; and Deepti Sharma, VR Vanitha, and Harmanpreet at SCG.

India Women lost the ODI series that followed. Mithali got 23 and 58 from the first innings, but two defeats had probably pushed her back to the wall. A target of 232 looked daunting at the massive Bellerive Oval.

But once again Smriti and Thirushkamini would get India off to a good start, adding 36. “Once they showed maturity, I realised I was not under the same kind of pressure every time I went out. In the last two years I have started to open up a bit when I have gone out to bat,” Mithali would later tell CricketCountry.

The Indian chase was firmly on track when Mithali was run out for a 113-ball 89. For once, she took backseat, letting Smriti launch a furious onslaught with a 52-ball 55. With Harmanpreet, Poonam, and Shikha all contributing, the target was achieved with 18 balls to spare.

The T20I mantle passed on to Harmanpreet after a disastrous World T20 campaign at home shortly afterwards. The transition has been complete and smooth. Harmanpreet and Smriti have earned BBL contracts.

The days of a team of self-motivated amateurs are gone. Mithali and Jhulan, once parts of that side, now play alongside a group of “giggling girls” who click selfies and are active on various social media platforms. The difference in moods in the two dressing rooms is startling.

“A lot of the youngsters these days are of the same age-group. They enjoy themselves together, but we talk among ourselves a lot as well,” she would later tell us.

She had been the role model for the Vedas and Smritis. Now they play alongside their idol, maybe others will as well. But Mithali continues to remain one of them, as does Jhulan: despite the difference in age she is one of them.

At some point she will give up ODI captaincy as well. It will perhaps be for the better, for she has thrived under Harmanpreet in the ACC Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup. She played only the major league matches, and has responded with 49*, 36, and 62, top-scoring every time.

Unfortunately, Indian Women’s cricket is back to poor coverage. With no live telecast, Mithali and her brigade continue to deliver goods in near-anonymity despite the fact that the girls play exciting cricket and win more than they lose. While they have done enough to secure BCCI contracts and a handful of commercials, the enormous step behind could not have helped.

Maybe things will turn around again, some day, this time for good. But till then, Mithali Dorai Raj will bat on, driving the ball elegantly past cover, running for a single, keeping an eye on the ball till it reaches those ropes…

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry. He blogs at and can be followed on Twitter @ovshake42.)