Mithali Raj says lack of support in Indian women’s team hampered her batting
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Mithali Raj says lack of support in Indian women’s team hampered her batting

Mithali Raj, who became the first woman cricketer to cross 6000 runs in ODI cricket on Wednesday, feels throughout her career she did not have enough support in the Indian team to improve her own batting as much as she wanted to.

cricket Updated: Jul 15, 2017 19:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mithali Raj,India Women's National Cricket Team,ICC Women's World Cup 2017
Mithali Raj became the leading run scorer in Women’s ODI cricket when she reached the score of 34 on Wednesday.(AP)

Mithali Raj, Indian women’s cricket team skipper, feels in her 18-year-long career she did not have enough support in the batting line-up to improve her own batting as much she wanted to.

“One thing is constant is the burden that I have carried all through. Somewhere, I felt that if I had few more batters to support me,.My game would have been much better than what it is or what it was,” Mithali said.

(Read | Mithali Raj becomes leading scorer in Women’s ODI cricket, wishes pour in)

“Even coming into the World Cup, considering how the team has been performing in the last two years, I think it was time for me to alleviate my own personal batting standards into the tournament.

“But again the case has been that me being in the middle gives confidence to other batters.”

(Read | Virat Kohli lauds Mithali Raj but goofs up with Facebook post, then deletes it)

India’s World Cup future hangs in the balance after an eight-wicket defeat to Australia, but Mithali Raj is confident her side has the potential to be world beaters.

The skipper insists what stands between Indian women’s cricket and a maiden World Cup triumph is a lack of resilience inside their own heads rather than a lack of skill inside the boundary ropes.

And with their backs to the wall and a winner-takes-all clash against New Zealand on the horizon on Saturday, Raj is urging her teammates to buck the trend. Her team is hoping to join England, Australia and South Africa, who have already ensured knockout berths.

(Read | ICC Women’s World Cup: India face do-or-die situation against New Zealand)

“India is still searching for its first World Cup title. Australia and England have shown they are able to bounce back from disappointment,” she said.

“At this level, if you are aiming for the World Cup, because the tournament is so long there will be points where the team may lose a couple of games.

“If you want to win, you really have to have the players who are able to make those comebacks because every other team is trying to do the same thing and play good cricket.

(Read | ICC Women’s World Cup: Australia seal semis spot with convincing win over India)

“You can’t just give up because you lose one game. India has always had the problem that when faced with the crunch matches, the team does not necessarily step up.

“If it is a very crucial game in the T20s, the World Cup, or even one that just dictates a series win, we tend to fall down in that match.

“So that is something that Indian players in general really need to work on. The girls are so talented, but it’s just a matter of how well they pull themselves up after a defeat.

(Read | Don’t compare Mithali Raj to Sachin Tendulkar, she is unique: Sunil Gavaskar)

“That’s what makes world champions.”

With her career 18 years in the making, Mithali Raj finally climbed to the top of the world on Wednesday as she became the leading run-scorer in women’s One-Day International cricket.

Record-setting Mithali

A measured 69 against defending champion Australia took the 34-year-old’s career ODI total to 6,028 – past Charlotte Edwards’s existing milestone of 5,992, and in doing so Raj became the first woman to pass 6,000 runs in the process.

(Read | Mithali Raj creates cricket history, becomes leading run-getter in Women’s ODIs)

The tributes poured in for Raj on Wednesday, with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli leading the adulation from back home.

And while those heroes of Indian cricket have all ascended to the top of the game over the past two decades, Raj admits she feels the same pressures leading her country.

She said: “It feels nice to score runs and pass that landmark, but I would have to say that was not my intention coming into this tournament.

“As a captain and as a player I wanted to lead the team well and score runs, because I know the team still depends on me very much.”

First Published: Jul 13, 2017 16:51 IST