An era in Indian cricket came to an end when Mithali Raj closed out a glorious 23-year long and everyday legendary career on Wednesday. She had made her debut in 1999, aged 16 years and slammed a ton on her ODI debut; she still remains the youngest to score a century in women’s ODIs.
The 39-year-old represented India in 12 Tests, 232 ODIs and 89 T20Is; her tally of 10,868 runs makes her the highest run-scorer in women’s international cricket by a distance. Raj, the leading run-scorer in women’s ODIs, notched up a record 64 ODI fifties to go with 7 ODI hundreds and one three-figure score in Tests – 214 against England in 2002.
Raj is also the only Indian, male or female, to lead the side to two ODI World Cup finals – in 2005 and 2017 – unfortunately, India lost both the finals and Raj goes out with a World Cup to her name.
When Mithali Raj shut down a journalist with a befitting reply:
One of her iconic, and memorable moments off the field was in 2017, prior to the Women’s ODI World Cup in England when she shut down a journalist with her befitting reply.
Going off the cricket topic, a reporter asked Mithali about her favourite male cricketer’s name. Displeased with such a question, especially in a press conference before the tournament, the skipper shot back: “Do you ask the same question to a male cricketer? Do you ask them who their favourite female cricketer is? I have always been asked who’s your favourite cricketer but you should ask them who their favourite female cricketer is.”
This reply gained a lot of applause for the then India captain. India’s Tennis superstar Sania Mirza lauded Raj for her boldness: ‘Mithali Raj, slay girl … well done!!’ she tweeted.
— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) June 23, 2017
For her massive contributions on the field, and its impact off it, Mithali Raj has been conferred with the Arjuna award (2003), the Padma Shri (2015) and most recently the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2021.