It has not been an easy journey: Mithali Raj

Mithali Raj’s answer was brief. “I am just happy,” she said smiling, at the post-match presentation, on becoming the all-time leading scorer in international women’s cricket.

Her bat, though, had spoken quite a bit earlier on Saturday at Worcester, where she made an unbeaten 75 off 86 balls to lead India to a four-wicket win in the final ODI against England. When she moved to 15 during that innings, with a boundary over the head of bowler Nat Sciver, she went past Charlotte Edwards’s 10,273 international runs, across formats.

At a virtual press conference, Mithali spoke about how her long journey over the last 22 years took her to the top of batting charts in women’s cricket. “It has not been an easy journey,” she said. “It has had its trials and challenges. I have always believed that the trials have a purpose.”

Hunger is still there

The skipper said there were times when she wanted to give up for various reasons. “But something kept me going, and here I am after 22 years of cricket,” she said. “The hunger for scoring runs for India has never dried up. I am still passionate to go out there and win games for India.”

 

She said there was still room for improvement in her batting. “I am working on that and I have a few months before the World Cup (starts),” she said.

About her two previous innings in the series drawing criticism for slow strike-rate (she made fifties in losing causes), she said she did not seek validation from people. “I have played for a long time and I have a certain responsibility to the team,” she said. “I am not here to please people, but to do the role assigned to me.”

She said she enjoyed playing in England, where she had made her international debut in 1999. “England is one of the world’s top teams and they say the conditions here are difficult but the bulk of the runs have been scored on this soil,” she said. “There have been instances when I came to England in bad form, but scored heavily. I am happy with the way I started the journey here in 1999 and it has come full circle here.”

She said she was hoping to carry her current form to future series. “I positively look forward to the tours and series I have still left to play,” she said.

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