Mithali Raj was the toast of Indian cricket on Wednesday even as Ravi Shastri’s return as the head coach of the Indian men’s cricket team did the rounds. (INDIA vs AUSTRALIA LIVE SCORE)
The 34-year-old captain of the Indian women’s cricket team won loads of praise after Mithali became the highest run-getter (6028 runs) in ODIs during the course of a 69-run innings against Australia in a Women’s Cricket World Cup match in Bristol.
“Mithali Raj is an inspiration and has carved a niche for herself. She is standing at the top of a mountain and we should celebrate that,” said former Test captain Sunil Gavaskar to NDTV when asked if she was the women’s version of Sachin Tendulkar.
Mithali Raj went past England’s Charlotte Edwards’ 5,992 runs (nine centuries, average 38.16) with a far better average of 51.52.
A teen sensation — Mithali Raj was 16 years old when she scored her maiden ODI century — she is the youngest centurion in the history of women’s One-day Internationals. No other player has scored a century in the format before turning 17.
“It is a fantastic achievement. Her longevity and resilence to carry on is an inspiration for both men and women,” said Gavaskar.
Mithali’s record drew praise from several international cricketers, including the Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli.
“It’s good that the men have reacted this way. They know how hard it is to score runs and how hard it is to stay at the top of your game for so long,” said Gavaskar. Mithali Raj made her debut with an unbeaten 114 against Ireland at Milton Keynes on June 26, 1999.
“It’s a proud day for Indian cricket. We have the highest scorer in Tests, ODI and now women’s ODIs,” said Gavaskar, who jokingly pointed out that there was magic in Hyderabad’s paani (water).
Born in Jodhpur, the women’s cricket team skipper grew up in Hyderabad that has produced several champions — Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and now Mithali Raj.
(With inputs from S. Pervez Qaiser)