Kolkata: At 38 years and after having conquered enough peaks in women’s cricket to prompt the Bollywood plan a biopic on her, any other sportswoman ought to have hung up her boots. Not of course, if you are a Mithali Raj.
Mithali, who had for long held on to the record of being the highest run-getter in women’s One-day Internationals, on Friday became the first Indian woman cricketer and only second after England’s Charlotte Edwards to complete 10,000 international runs across all formats, which had the cricketing fraternity breaking into a wholehearted applause.
Now only the captain of the ODI side, she achieved the feat with a boundary off Anne Bosch in the 28th over of India’s innings during the third ODI against South Africa in Lucknow.
The biggest chunk of her runs, of course, came from the ODIs (6974 runs from 212 ODIs), 2364 runs from 89 T20 Internationals and 663 runs from 10 Test matches with a highest score of 214.
Soon after reaching the milestone of Friday, Mithali departed as she flicked a Bosch delivery straight to Mignon du Preez at midwicket - scoring 36 runs off 50 balls including five boundaries. The visitors went on to win the rain-interrupted match by six runs on Duckworth-Lewis method.
One of the few elder stateswomen of the game alongwith her long standing colleague Jhulan Goswami, Mithali made her international debut against Ireland in an ODI back in June 1999 and has scored seven centuries and 54 half-centuries in the format. Goswami, also 38, is the highest wicket-taker in women’s ODIs with 231 wickets and the duo had been two of the most inspirational figures in the sport which spawned the likes of current generation of saleable stars like Smriti Mandhanda, Harmanpreet Kaur of Jemimah Rodrigues.
Leading the tributes on social media for Mithali was Sachin Tendulkar, the master batsman. “Heartiest congratulations Mithali on completing 10,000 runs in International Cricket. Terrific achievement… Keep going strong!,” he said.
Former Indian batting hero VVS Laxman said the veteran is an inspiration for budding players. “Congratulations @M_Raj03 on becoming the first Indian Woman Cricketer to score 10K runs! You are not only a great ambassador and a legend of the game but you have inspired a generation of cricketers to take up our sport. Proud of you,” he tweeted.
Earlier, the Indian cricket board too congratulated her: “What a champion cricketer! First Indian woman batter to score 10K international runs. Take a bow, @M_Raj03.”
BCCI secretary Jay Shah called the India captain an “absolute legend”. “Take a bow, @M_Raj03! What an achievement to be the first Indian woman cricketer to surpass the international 10,000-run mark. Absolute legend,” Shah wrote on his Twitter handle.
IPL franchises Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians also congratulated the seasoned cricketer who, in her own calm style, never shied away from making a stance in the face of any form of sexism in the sport. An exceptional one was when during India’s campign in the 50-overs ICC World Cup in England in 2017, she was asked about her favourite men’s cricketer in the Indian team. ‘‘Did you ever ask any of them as to who their favourite women player was?’’ came the repartee.
Mithali Raj, Take a bow!