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Mithali Raj says reading before batting helps her remain calm

India Women’s captain Mithali Raj was spotted reading a book before she ventured out in the World Cup opener against England to create a couple of batting records.

cricket Updated: Jun 25, 2017 19:03 IST
HT Correspondent
India's Mithali Raj during the ICC Women's World Cup match against England on Saturday.
India's Mithali Raj during the ICC Women's World Cup match against England on Saturday.(AP)

It was class personified. While most of the captains would be sitting on the edges of their seats with their hearts pounding hard with their team taking field in a World Cup opener, Mithali Raj sat alongside the boundary ropes at the County Ground in Derby reading a book, while Smriti Mandhana and Poonam Raut wreaked havoc in the English ranks on Saturday.

While Smriti managed to get the better of her nerves — if there were any — with an onslaught that broke England’s back early in the contest, Mithali enjoyed ‘perfect weather for a relaxing read’, a perfect description of her actions after India stormed to a 35-run win over England Women in ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 opening tie.

And that was not all. When it was her turn to bat, Mithali created two world records which will take some toil out of anyone who decides to have a crack at it.

Mithali smacked a 73-ball 71, studded with 8 boundaries and created the record of scoring seven consecutive half-centuries in women’s ODIs.

READ | Indian cricket community hails victory in ICC Women’s World Cup

Mithali’s fifty was the 47th of her career, which helped her surpass former England captain Charlotte Edwards, who scored 46 fifties in 191 matches. Mithali has achieved the feat in 178 games and 159 innings.

But the tone was set by Smriti early on. Batting without her customary glasses, Mandhana ripped apart the English pace attack and spinners alike. The 20-year-old was unfortunate to have missed out on scoring a ton on World Cup debut, but Smriti would be chuffed after top-scoring with 90 off a mere 72 balls, with 11 fours and two sixes. From the other end, Poonam scored a resolute 86 with seven fours and one six.

Mithali praised India’s opening pair of Smriti-Poonam as well as the spinners.

“It’s important you get a good start like this and it was a brilliant partnership between the openers. Since both the batters were middling the ball well, it made sense for us to take the batting power-play early and we realised halfway through that innings we could get 250 and above. I knew the wicket wasn’t much help to the bowlers so it was important that the spinners especially put the ball in the right areas, which they did,” she was quoted as saying by ICC.

READ | ICC in global sports event twitter first for Women’s World Cup

A Twitter emoji

It is not new for official cricket accounts on Twitter to have specialised emojis for major events, but to have personalised ones for women cricketers is something new. On her part, Mithali too has one on her name and she says it is ‘good for women’s cricket’.

‘Reading calms me down’

The sight of Mithali engrossed in a book while keeping an eye on the proceedings in the middle certainly caught attention, as social media was flooded with how ‘cool’ the India Women’s captain is.

However, like several male cricketers who have their peculiar habits before batting, Mithali too has one, perhaps the most unique. She says reading a book calms her down, and even though she could not carry her Kindle on the tour, Mithali borrowed a book from the fielding coach.

READ | Mithali Raj smashes world record as India beat England in ICC Women’s World Cup opener

“Since Kindle is not allowed, so I had to borrow books from the fielding coach and he gave me this book my Rumi on life’s essentials (sic) (titled: The Essential), so I was just reading that. I am into reading a lot; even before getting into batting I am always with Kindle or books because it calms me down as well as and I don’t get those jitters (ahead of) just getting into batting,” Mithali revealed.

Room for improvement

While Mithali praised the opening pair and the platform they created for the middle order to capitalise on, she said the team needs to learn from mistakes made on the field in context to dropped catches and missed stumpings.

“Definitely there is a lot to improve on, and as a captain I would have been happy if whatever opportunities have come our way in terms of catches and stumping we should have taken those (sic). Maybe the match would not have looked closer in the middle overs,” she said.