I dream. I work hard. I grind, until I own it. That Twitter profile bio has pretty much been Mithali Raj’s code in an international career spanning 22 years.
On Friday, the 38-year-old skipper of India’s 50-over team made another record her own when she flicked South African medium-pacer Anne Bosch through square leg for a boundary. Those runs, in her 212th ODI, took her past 10,000 runs in international cricket — the first Indian woman to achieve the mark and only the second, after England’s Charlotte Edwards (10,273), to accomplish the feat in women’s cricket.
Mithali’s 36 against South Africa, albeit in a losing cause in Lucknow, also took her closer to becoming the first woman cricketer to log 7,000 runs in ODIs. At 6,974 runs, the Hyderabadi is 26 runs shy of the mark.
Mithali, who made her international debut in June 1999 against Ireland, picked consistency as the key to her longevity.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, after India lost to South Africa by six runs via the DL method, Mithali pointed out, “When you play for so long obviously you go through different milestones, this being one of them. The key for me, I think, has been consistency. I’ve believed in scoring runs each time I walked out to bat.”
On her success mantra, the skipper added, “Whether it is domestic or international cricket it never mattered as long as I get an opportunity to bat. It is about making it count. Over the years, that has given me a lot of experience and exposure to work on my game. With the changing standard of women’s cricket, trying to be relevant on the international circuit is important.”
Stressing further on the need to stay relevant, Mithali, who has led India to two World Cup finals, said, “I think being relevant is about keeping with the times because women’s cricket has evolved over time. From scoring a (team) total of 150, today teams are scoring 250 and above (in ODIs). You need to tune your game accordingly.”
Although Mithali is not big on milestones, she hopes to tick the World Cup triumph off her bucket list at the 50-overs extravaganza in New Zealand in April next year.
“I’ve not really given much thought to milestones but the one which will stand out will be if India goes on to win the World Cup. That will always be very special,” she stated.