Mithali recently became the highest run-getter in women's ODIs.

Cricket was not my first love The story of Indias captain marvel Mithali Raj
news Cricket Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 19:12

With India missing out on a chance to progress to the semi-final stage of the ICC Women’s World Cup against the Aussies on Wednesday, the only silver lining of the defeat was yet another individual record achieved by the Indian skipper— Mithali Raj.

Etching her name in the history books, she became the highest scorer in women’s one-day international (ODI) cricket and in the process, the first woman cricketer to reach the milestone of 6,000 runs in ODIs.

What makes Mithali’s feat even more remarkable is that while England's Charlotte Edwards whose tally of 5,992 runs she surpassed, had achieved the feat in 191 matches, Mithali did it in 183 matches.

Mithali has often been referred to as the Sachin Tendulkar of women’s cricket, given the numerous individual records she holds like that of being the youngest woman to score an ODI century at the age of 16 in her first international match.

Much like Tendulkar, referring to the constant burden of pressure and expectations that she’s carried all through her career, Mithali said it always played on her mind.

"There are times where I can push it to the next level but I never got that opportunity in the teams that I've played. Playing for a stronger side with more players to stand up and win games, it gives you the freedom to play your shots and you don't have to think about what happens if you get out," Mithali told Espncricinfo.

Not that her batting average of over 50 leaves any doubts about her consistency at the international level. Mithali also has the distinction of scoring an unprecedented seven consecutive half-centuries in ODIs.

Not surprisingly, she is also the highest run-getter for India in women’s T20 internationals.   

Mithali can also be dubbed as captain dependable. Her average has been an impressive 75.72 in matches which India have won.    

Mithali, who has been conferred the Arjuna Award in 2003 and Padma Shree in 2015, was born in Jodhpur to Tamil parents— Dorai and Leela Raj on December 3, 1982.

Later, she along with her family moved to Hyderabad.

However, it might come as a surprise that she did not take to cricket of her own volition but gave up classical dance in favour of the sport.  

“I was good at dance and that is something I always enjoyed, it was my interest. Cricket was something which I was pushed into,” Mithali had told The Indian Express.

She first took to cricket at the age of 10 and during one of the cricket academy sessions, coach and former first-division player Jyothi Prasad, spotted her hitting the ball with a straight bat and she came across as a complete natural.

At the age of 14, Mithali was included in the list of probables for the 1997 World Cup. Having to choose between dancing and cricket, she eventually decided to take up the latter full time.

“I wanted to excel in cricket because of the sacrifices my parents made. Even when the going got tough, I wanted to continue playing,” Mithali said.

Mithali was made captain at the age of 22 and led the side in the 2005 World Cup where the team were losing finalists, after they were beaten by Australia.

By the time the 2009 World Cup came around, she had decided to quit the game after the tournament. But with the live telecast of matches for the first time and with the team finishing third, she came into the spotlight.

This is the time she started enjoying cricket and decided to continue playing as there was recognition for the women’s game.

And today, she stands as an inspiration for all aspiring cricketers, through her success achieved by sheer dint of hard work and perseverance. 

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