Having made her debut as a 16-year-old in 1999, Mithali went on to play 12 Tests, 232 ODIs and 89 T20Is. Her aggregate of 10,868 international runs in 333 matches – ODIS, Tests and T20I – will take some beating. The 39-year-old scored 7,805 runs at an average of 50.7 in ODIs – a world record – and led India to 89 victories in 155 ODIs, the most for any woman captain.
With most runs in women’s cricket and the only Indian captain – man or woman – to have led the side in two 50-over World Cup finals, the 39-year-old, however, retires without the trophy in her cabinet.
This deep desire to be a World Cup winner was what forced Mithu, as she’s fondly called by family and friends, to push all boundaries. She was reluctant to call it quits without fulfilling her dream di lei but “like all journeys, this one too must come to an end” as she noted in the retirement message, which she tweeted.
“I set out as a little girl on the journey to wear the Indian blues as representing your country is the highest honor. The journey was full of highs and some lows. The last 23 years have been the most fulfilling, challenging & enjoyable years of my life, ”Mithali said.
Mithali made her ODI debut at 16 and scored an unbeaten 114 against Ireland at Milton Keynes in 1999. “I am one of those players who played from the era of WACI to BCCI, from IWCC to ICC, from empty stadiums to packed ones, from county grounds to international stadiums. I have seen everything that women’s cricket has come to be today. My own personal journey has been parallel to the transition of women’s cricket, ”she had once told TOI
Faced with a choice between Bharatanatyam and cricket, Mithali decided to take the road less traveled. “Two things fascinated me early in my career: classical dance and cricket. It was a difficult choice to make but I preferred cricket and I honestly have no regrets now,” Mithali had remarked retracing her foray into the game that she served with dignity. Though she was pushed a bit in the initial stages, Mithali dominated women’s cricket.
“From making my debut to now, it has been two decades of my prime life which has not been at home but at the ground – different countries, hotels, grounds, coaches, travel. It ‘s been a very privileged journey.”
There were a few downs too, including the run-in with coach Romesh Powar and the famous jibe that run-rate is overrated. But her focus of her never wavered. Mithali, however, said that her association di lei with the game will continue.
“This journey may have ended but another one beckons as I’d love to stay involved in the game I love and co ntribute to the growth of women’s cricket in India,” she tweeted. The younger generation and women’s cricket will surely benefit from that.
Congratulations on a stellar career Mithali Raj! Your contribution to Indian Women’s Cricket over the last 23 year… https://t.co/K0kYqTe0Tl
– Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) 1654751874000