In India, kids aren’t much encouraged by their parents and teachers to take up sports as a full-time career. Boys are luckier than girls (as in all other matters) in this matter. Their parents show them some support by getting them enrolled in sports academies if they have a flair for it. Girls don’t generally get much support and encouragement for following their passion for sports. Among all sports, Cricket is most loved by nearly all Indians. Boys start playing cricket from an early age as a hobby and if they are lucky enough their parents may even encourage them to pursue it as a career as well. But in case of girls, the situation is very pathetic for several reasons. Number one, hardly anyone watches women’s cricket as it is mainly regarded as a sport for men. Number two, girls don’t like to play cricket. Number three, even if some girls love playing cricket, their parents hardly encourage them. In such a scenario an Indian woman has made a mark for herself by setting many world records in International Women’s Cricket. She is none other than the captain of Indian women’s cricket team Mithali Raj.
Mithali Raj, 35, is the captain of the Indian women’s cricket team in Tests and ODI. Mithali is regarded as one of the best batswomen in cricket. Mithali is the highest run-scorer in women’s international cricket and the only woman to surpass the 6,000 run mark in World One Day Internationals. She is the first player to score 7 consecutive half-centuries in One Day Internationals. Mithali Raj became the first player from India (either man or woman) to score 2000 runs in T20 International in June 2018 during the 2018 Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup. She has also set the milestone for becoming the first woman cricketer to reach 2000 T20 International runs.
Mithali Raj is the only player (man or woman) to have captained India in more than one International Cricket Council One Day International World Cup finals, in 2005 and 2017. Mithali Raj was born in Rajasthan, India on 3 December 1982 in a Tamil family. Her father Dorai Raj was earlier an Airman in the Indian Air Force and later joined the Andhra Bank. Her mother is Leela Raj. Mithali started to play cricket at the age of 10 and at the age of 17, she was picked for the Indian team.
“Mithali was keen on becoming a dancer. However, destiny seemed to have had other plans for her,” father Dorai Raj said, recalling those early years when she would practice her steps for the stage.
RS R Murthy, who has been associated with Mithali since she joined Railways in 2000, applauded her talent and dedication.
“It’s a great achievement. I am feeling very happy. She achieved this milestone because of her hard work and dedication. I wish many more achievements in her career. She has become a role model, not only in the country but in the world,” “She made several sacrifices, cutting down on attending social events, for the sake of her career.”
Mithali Raj was down with a strain of typhoid during the CricInfo Women’s World Cup in 2002, threatening India’s performance. However, she led Team India to their first World Cup final in 2005, in South Africa, where they met Australia who was very strong competition. In August 2006, Mithali led the side to their first ever Test and Series victory in England and ended the year winning the Asia Cup – the second time in a year – without dropping a single game!
In July 2017, Mithali Raj became the first player to make 6,000 runs in WODIs. She led the Indian team to the final of the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup where the team lost to England by nine runs. In December 2017, Mithali was named as one of the players in the ICC Women’s ODI Team of the Year.