India vs England: Pride of representing India keeps me going - Mithali Raj
In an exclusive interview during the ongoing T20 series against England, the 36-year-old spoke on a variety of topics.Updated: Mar 07, 2019 11:19 IST
With Mithali Raj only 13 games away from the 100-game mark in T20 cricket, there is a question mark over whether India’s most celebrated woman cricketer will be able to reach the landmark. The Test and ODI captain had been in the news over differences with T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur and coach Ramesh Powar during the T20 World Cup in the West Indies. In an exclusive interview during the ongoing T20 series against England, the 36-year-old spoke on a variety of topics.
Q: After the 2018 T20 World Cup in the West Indies, there has been uncertainty over your T20 career with reports suggesting you plan to retire after the series against England in Guwahati.
A: I am here to play. It is not appropriate to talk about it in the middle of a very important series against a very formidable England side. I would not want to make a decision regarding it at this juncture. When I decide to take a call on it, it would be out officially and everybody will come to know about it.
Q: From being the ODI captain to playing under a captain in T20s, how does your role change?
A: There are seasoned cricketers in the T20 team like Harmanpreet, Smriti Mandhana and Veda Krishnamurthy. They have played a lot of cricket. Still, whenever they need to know anything from me, I want to help them out, on and off the field.
Q: What sort of vision do you share with the new coach WV Raman?
A: Although I am not in the thick of things when it comes to T20 cricket, but as an ODI captain, I’d like to give more stability to the players. I am not the one who would chop and change players because of one or two failures. Women get very few opportunities to show mettle, unlike men. That’s what I speak with Raman; to make sure we continue that sort of approach.
Q: What motivates you to keep going at 36?
A: I have worked really hard to reach here. It is the pride to play for India that keeps me going. Not many get a chance to play for India and I feel very fortunate to be still playing. The will to do well for India is a big motivation.
Q: Smriti Mandhana has taken the world by storm with her batting. Like you, she has also been entrusted with the job of leading the team at 22. Do you think she can take forward your legacy?
A: Smriti has been scoring runs at a brisk pace in the last one year. She will have to keep doing that. Responsibility will come with time. Moreover, the international leagues she is playing in will help her as a captain. She is a very good prospect for India. Also, it depends on how she handles the players in the team.
Q: Many new faces like Priya Punia, Harleen Deol, Komal Zanzad and Bharti Fulmali have been included in the team. What are your thoughts?
A: All are very talented, having different attributes. They have done well in domestic cricket to reach here. At the same time, they need to spend time with the team and learn a lot. A bit of conditioning with the Indian team, coach and trainers will help them build confidence.
Q: What role do you see for yourself when you quit international cricket?
A: I would love to mentor youngsters. With more sponsors coming in, media engagements happening, and matches being televised, youngsters can get carried away. In such a scenario, a mentor can step in and help in channelising the cricketers’ energies into the sport.
First Published: Mar 07, 2019 10:33 IST