Mithali Raj is the pillar of the India women’s cricket team. In her 20-year career, she has played in 200 ODIs. In Twenty20 Internationals, she has featured in 85 matches in 13 years since making her debut against England in Derby in 2006. However, in the current tour of New Zealand, there are reports emerging that the 36-year-old could call time on her international career following the end of the England series which will take place in March 2019 in India. In the first T20I against the White Ferns in Westpac stadium, Wellington, Mithali was not picked in the game and she handed her debut cap to youngster Priya Punia. The move is been seen as a symbol that the transition has begun.
A senior BCCI official has told PTI that Mithali has understood the need for Harmanpreet Kaur to focus on building a side for the 2020 World Twenty20 and added the veteran deserved a warm and fitting send-off. “Mithali understands that skipper Harmanpreet Kaur will like to concentrate on building a team for the 2020 World T20 and that she is unlikely to feature in that tournament. It is still not sure whether she would like to play the full series against England or like former men's team pacer Ashish Nehra, play the first game of the series and retire,” the official said.
In 85 matches, Mithali has scored 2283 runs and scored 17 fifties at an average of 37 and a strike-rate of 96. She has more runs than Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma but in the last couple of months, Mithali was in the center of a major controversy during the 2018 World T20 which was held in the West Indies.
The right-hander had scored two fifties and was in good form but in the crunch semi-final against England, she was dropped from the playing XI and India lost the match to crash out of the tournament. Afterwards, there were murmurs that Mithali was apparently dropped due to her slow scoring rate and sluggish fielding.
Following the omission, Mithali’s manager lashed out at skipper Harmanpreet stating, “The kind of favouritism that has been shown is very apparent. I think everybody can see the kind of favouritism that is being shown to certain members of the team.” The fall-out from Mithali’s omission saw some major changes. Mithali lashed out at the-then coach Ramesh Powar and also at Diana Edulji, the head of the Committee of Administrators.
“For the first time in a 20 year long career, I felt deflated, depressed and let down. I am forced to think if my services to my country are of any value to a few people in power who are out to destroy me and break my confidence,” Mithali had wrote on her Twitter handle.
Powar’s tenure was not renewed and WV Raman was selected as the new coach of the Indian women’s cricket team for the tour of New Zealand. India will play three Twenty20 Internationals against England starting in March in Barsapara, Assam.