Away from the glaring media eyes, the teenage sensation with the sheer grit and determination to perform well for the nation, scripted her way into the record books by scoring a well-compiled hundred on debut.
An unbeaten knock of 114 runs propelled the Indian team to a comprehensive 161 runs win over their counterparts. The day not only announced the arrival of Raj in the international circuit; it also marked the beginning of a new era in the history of women’s cricket.
In a male-dominated sport, it is the rise of Mithali Raj as a young teenage batting prodigy to one of the greatest players to have ever donned the national jersey. She is arguably the flag bearer of the Indian women’s cricket team and her impact on the game and women’s sport in the country has been immense to say the least.
As the captain of the Indian cricket team for One Day International turns a year older, we take a look at the top five defining moments in her career.
After making steady progress in the international arena since her debut, Mithali Raj rocked the world with yet another masterclass.
In the second and final test match against England at Taunton, the right-handed batter scored a scintillating double hundred to take the team to a mammoth 467 runs in the first innings.
With a flurry of strokes all around the ground, Raj recorded the highest ever score in the women’s test match. In doing so, she went past the previous best of an unbeaten 209 runs by Karen Rolton. Despite the match ending in a draw, Mithali Raj’s record-breaking exploits with the bat will be remembered.
Her consistent performances at the top of the order resulted in Mithali Raj getting the responsibility to lead the Indian team in the 2005 ICC World Cup in South Africa.
The Jodhpur-born player made an immediate impact as she led the team to the finals of the iconic event. The pressure or responsibility of leading the nation did not deter the youngster as she scored a match-winning half-century in the semi-finals against arch-rivals New Zealand.
Her astute captaincy combined with her exploits with the bat helped the Indian team storm into the summit clash. The Indian cricket team fell agonizingly short in the finals against Australia. But their spirited campaign inspired millions of young boys and girls to take up the sport and follow their dream.
After a dismal performance in the ICC World Cup in 2013 at home, Mithali Raj and the young Indian team embarked on their journey to conquer the formidable England outfit.
Test matches are a rarity in women’s sport. And it was not surprising to see the Indian eves play a four-day game after a gap of eight long years against England at Wormsley.
While the visitors needed 183 runs in the final innings to record a famous win, the home needed the prized wicket of Mithali Raj to swing the game in their favour. Over the past two decades, Mithali Raj has single-handedly shouldered the responsibility of scoring the bulk of the runs for the team.
Coming into bat at number four, Raj steadied the innings along with Shikha Pandey to guide the Indian team to a famous win on foreign soil. En route this unbeaten partnership of 68 runs for the fifth wicket, Raj too scored a match-winning half-century to lead India to a special win.
The Indian eves endured a fairytale run in the ICC Women’s World Cup in England in 2017. The team reached the finals for the second time.
Despite falling short by nine runs in the clash against England at Lords, Mithali Raj was one of the top performers for the side scoring 409 runs in the nine matches.
She entered the record books for being the first player in the history of the game to score seven consecutive half-centuries. She is also the highest scorer in the Women’s ODI history, going past Charlotte Edwards’s 5,992 runs.
Her hundred in the group stage against Australia made her the first player to score 6000 runs in the one day format.
Despite being of the stalwarts of Indian cricket, Mithali Raj never fails to turn up for her domestic team Railways in the inter-state competition.
With thousands of runs at the international level, Raj etched her name into the record books as she became the first player to score a century by an Indian in the shortest format of the game.
Her destructive knock off 66 balls with 13 boundaries and one huge six helped Railway’s edge past their rivals Hyderabad by nine runs in a thrilling encounter.
She is also the first Indian player, either male or female, to reach 2000 runs in the T20 internationals after her magnificent performance in the Asia Cup held in Malaysia.