India@75 Sports Legends: Mithali Raj - A pioneer of Indian women's cricket
India has completed its 75 years of independence. As we look at the country's sports legend, it is worth considering women's cricket. Mithali Raj is the ultimate legend, and here's why.
It is a scornful moment for India, as it celebrates its 75th year of independence. On this optimistic note, we are looking at and observing the sporting legends of India. Considering cricket, it is worth looking at the country's female cricketing icons. And, when it comes to women's cricket in India, Mithali Raj has to be the first name that comes to our mind.
Mithali began her domestic career with Railways, while it was in 1999 when she made her Team India debut in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs). To date, she has played 220 ODIs, scoring 7,391 runs at an impressive average of 51.32, including seven tons and 59 half-centuries, with a top score of an unbeaten 125. Unfortunately, she never managed to lead the side to World Cup glory.
Three years later, Mithali made her Test debut, as she has scored 699 runs in 12 Tests at an average of 43.68, including a ton and four half-centuries, with a top score of 214. In 2006, she also debuted in the Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is), scoring 2,364 in 89 at 37.52, including 17 50s and an unbeaten 97.
Although Mithali retired from the shortest format in 2019 to focus on the remaining two formats, she continues to serve well for the side, even at 39. Also, she failed to succeed in the T20 World Cup, which compelled her to retire from the format, keeping her age in mind, and later from cricket as a whole. Nevertheless, she has been a pioneer in women's cricket for India, paving the way for numerous more top talents.
Below are the records Mithali holds in international cricket:
- She is the leading run-scorer across formats for India.
- She holds the record of most successive 50s by a women's batter in the ODIs (7).
- She is the first Indian woman to score more than 1,000 runs in the ODI World Cup.
- She holds the record of having played the most successful ODIs in women's cricket (109).
As for the recognitions Mithali has earned throughout her career:
- Arjuna Award - 2003
- Padma Shri - 2015
- Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award - 2021
- Youth Sports Icon of Excellence Award - 2017
- Vogue Sportsperson of the Year - 2017
- BBC 100 Women - 2017
- Wisden Leading Woman Cricketer in the World - 2017