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Mithali Raj, pioneer of women’s cricket, bids adieu to international career

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Legendary India batter Mithali Raj has called time on her storied international career, bringing an end to a glorious 23-year career.

Having made her debut as a 16-year-old in 1999, Mithali’s career has spanned nearly 23 years across four different decades during which time she became the central cog in the growth of the women’s game in the country and beyond.

Mithali finished international career with a staggering 10,868 runs – the most in women’s cricket. She scored 7805 ODI runs in 232 matches, at an average just over 50 while has 2364 runs in 89 T20Is, as well as 699 runs in 12 Tests, including a century and four half-centuries.

The 39-year-old Mithali, who captained India to the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, also holds the record for the most matches (28 matches) captained in Women’s World Cups, breaking Australian legend Belinda Clark’s record during the ICC Women’s World Cup 2022 in March.

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She also led India to four consecutive Asia Cup triumphs — 2005-06, 2006-07, 2008, 2012. However, perhaps Mithali’s most significant achievement as captain came in 2014 as India sealed a historic Test series victory in England, with Mithali guiding the team home with an unbeaten 50 in the second innings.

As a skipper, Mithali has 89 wins out of 155 – the most by any player in women’s ODIs. Her 155 matches as captain is also the highest in women’s ODIs.

The batter also became the second youngest centurion after she scored a century on ODI debut in 1999. At 16 years and 205 days, she became the youngest centurion in women’s internationals. The record was only broken 22 years later in 2021, when Ireland’s Amy Hunter achieved that feat on her 16th birthday.

The veteran has also most runs in a series by captain. In the 2014-17 ICC Women’s Championship, Mithali scored 535 runs in 17 matches, the most by an India captain in an ODI series.

The 39-year-old Mithali also played most matches (232) and hit most fifties (64) in women’s internationals ODIs. Mithali is also the only Indian woman to score a double century in Tests. Her score of 214 (v England in 2002) is the second-highest individual score in women’s Tests.

ICC Chief Executive Geoff Allardice called Raj a hero for cricketers around the world and hoped she would continue to contribute to the game in the years to come.

“Mithali is one of the all-time greats of the game. Over the past 23 years, many young girls and boys have been inspired to take up the sport after watching her,” said Allardice in a ICC statement.

“Mithali has played a huge role in raising the profile of women’s cricket during a crucial period of its growth and I sincerely hope she will stay involved with the game in the coming years. On behalf of the ICC, I congratulate her for a fantastic career.”

Raj, who led India to the finals of the ICC Women’s World Cups in 2005 and 2017, is the only woman, and only the third cricketer ever, to appear at six ICC (50-over) Cricket World Cups.

IANS

READ ALSO: Indian boxer Nikhat Zareen braves all odds to attain glory at the Women’s World Championship

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