“The former captain of the Indian Women Cricket team announced her retirement from international cricket after playing for 23 years last week. Mithali Raj, this name will shine forever in Indian cricket. Take a bow, genius!” Scorch said in honor of the legendary player.
“I have heard she had some amazing achievements. Can you tell us more about this news and her?” said Verum, who was sitting right beside Scorch. The Gifted Four were in their library studying. Scorch promised them to narrate Raj’s story at bedtime.
The day had passed, dinner was delicious and the Gifted Four were tucked into their beds, Scorch began, “It was the year 1999, a 16-year-old girl made her grand entry into the international cricket arena when she scored 114 runs in her debut one-day international (ODI) in England. She became the youngest woman cricketer in the team to mark a century in her first-ever match. A feat like this is rare to achieve.
Women’s cricket in India was not popular at that time. The Women’s Cricket Association of India (WCAI) did not have enough money to support its players and hardly any girl wanted to become a cricketer.
But Raj had her eyes firmly set on her goal which was to play for the Indian women’s team. Her excellence as a batsman and as a strategic player won the hearts of cricket lovers in India.
She even became the captain of the team. It was under her captaincy that the Women’s Cricket Team of India reached two Women’s Cricket World Cup finals. Her journey to date has empowered and inspired young girls to dream of becoming professional Indian women cricketers,” Scorch paused.
“Marvelous! I can’t wait to hear more about her. Her beginning and the background in which she started has got me thinking about what happened to the Indian women’s cricket team,” asked Felix, all ears for the story to proceed.
“Women’s cricket team only got better and better. Born on December 3rd, 1982, Raj loved dancing. She wanted to become a Bharatnatyam dancer, the classical Indian art form. But at the tender age of 10 years, Raj played cricket for the first time and found her dream career. She has won several awards for her contributions to the game as a player and as a mentor for India’s youth.
One of them is the 2015 Padma Shri Award, one of the highest civilian awards of India,” Scorch paused as Felix, Verum and Orak were amazed and sharing looks.
“I am amazed. Cricket is known to be a gentleman’s game and to make a mark for yourself as a woman in this game speaks volumes of her dedication, commitment, and love for the game,” added Orak.
“Truly,” replied Scorch, “No wonder she is called ‘Lady Tendulkar’ of the Indian Women’s Cricket Team. Sachin Tendulkar is one of the greatest cricket players in men’s cricket.
Raj has bid adieu to cricket and her scores speak for her.
The highlights of her career include:
1. She has scored 10,868 runs, including 93 50-plus scores, over 333 international appearances. This is a world record in itself for a woman cricketer.
2. Her 22 active years is the longest time across the sport – men’s or women’s.
3. She has played in 155 ODIs as India’s captain and six ODI World Cups, which is the most by any woman player.
4. Raj remains the only captain – in men’s or women’s cricket – who led India to two ODI World Cup finals.”
“Wow!” said Verum, adding, “I am speechless. What a player! What a journey!” The other three nodded in agreement.