India skipper Mithali Raj‘s hunger for runs remains the same as it was 22 years ago and she is trying to add “new dimensions” to her batting for a one last hurrah at next year’s ODI World Cup in New Zealand. Mithali on Saturday became the highest run-getter in women’s cricket across all formats while guiding India to a consolation four-wicket win over England in the third and final ODI in Worcester. She made unbeaten 75 off 86 balls to take the visitors home. “The way things have gone it wasn’t an easy journey. It had its trials and challenges. I always believed that trials have a purpose,” she said about her journey that started in Milton Keynes against Ireland in June 26, 1999.
“There were times when I wanted to give up for various reasons but something kept me going and here I am 22 years of international cricket but the hunger for runs have never sort of dried up. I am still very passionate to go out there, be there in the middle and win games for India,” she added.
“I know there is still room for improvements in terms of my batting and that is something I am working on… There are certain dimensions I would like to add to my batting,” she said at the virtual post-match press conference.
Mitahli, who has retired from T20 cricket in 2019, has already hinted that the 2022 Women’s ODI World Cup, to be held in New Zealand from March 4 to April 3, will be her swansong.
With vast experience on her back, the 38-year-old right-hander said she is currently enjoying the role of a mentor while fulfilling her responsibility in the team’s batting unit.
“Batting has always been a role play for me in the team, the sort of role that’s assigned to me over the years, taking the responsibility of the batting unit and play throughout,” she added.
“Chasing gives me a better picture of building an innings along with other batters in the middle. I am able to control the game,” she said.
“That really worked for me and also having some young girls in the team, it helps to guide them when you are in the middle… Trying to help them also to understand the situation and how to play in these conditions,” she added.
“The entire batting unit revolves around me, that’s the job that is given to me by the coach and team management,” Mithali said.
Raj heaped praise on all-rounder Sneh Rana, with whom she shared a valuable 50-run stand for the seventh wicket on Saturday, and said she has a bright future.
“Need to give credit to Sneh Rana because that partnership was very crucial. Definitely, at that slot we have always looked for somebody who have the shots to clear the field, strong shots all around and it helps to have a player who can also bowl,” she said.
“So its good to have her in the side and she is definitely showed that she has the character to become a good player. In modern cricket, all-rounders play a very important role in composition of the team,” she added.
Raj expects her deputy and T20 skipper Harmanpreet Kaur to hit form soon.
“It does happen with any player,” Mithali said of Kaur’s lean patch.
“Sometimes you’re just not in form. But as a team and as a unit we back players who have been match-winners. We also know that single-handedly she has won games for us with her innings. This time around she needs the support of the team to back her,” Mithali said.
She also backed young Jemmimah Rodrigues to get back to form.
“A young player, obviously, she (Rodrigues) will take some time. It’s just matter of experience and exposure for players like her,” she said.
“When a player goes through bad form, as (fellow) players, seniors, and team management we can give her the confidence and the backing, but it boils down to the player herself to have that belief to come out of the (bad) form,” she added.
Mithali said the win in the third ODI augurs well for the team going into the three-match T20 series, which starts on July 9 in Northampton.
“Yes, it is a confidence-booster because that’s what I told the girls, I said, we’re still in the series. Winning a game like this puts pressure on them. Getting into the T20s, the entire unit should be confident,” she concluded.
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