On Tuesday (3rd September), Mithali Raj announced her retirement from the T20I cricket. The 36-year-old wants to focus on the next women’s cricket world cup in 2021.
Mithali Raj made her debut in T20I cricket on 5th August 2006 when India Women faced England Women at Derby. It was also the first-ever T20I game for the India Women while Raj led that side. India Women won that match by eight wickets.
Mithali Raj played 89 T20Is where she scored 2,364 runs with an average of 37.52. While Raj played the second most T20I matches for India Women, she also finished as the leading T20I run-scorer for India Women. Till the date, she is the only India Women’s cricketer to reach the 2,000 runs milestone in T20I career.
The right-handed batswoman hit 17 half-centuries in T20I career, which is the third most 50+ scores in Women’s T20I history. Her best T20I knock was 97* against Malaysia Women at Kuala Lumpur on 3rd June 2018 during the Women’s T20 Asia Cup 2018. At that time, it was the highest individual T20I score for India Women. Later, last November, during the ICC Women’s World T20, captain Harmanpreet Kaur (103 runs against New Zealand Women) broke that record and became the first T20I centurion for India Women.
In her T20I career, Mithali Raj led the national women’s cricket team in 32 matches. Under her captaincy, India Women played three ICC World T20s (2012, 2014 and 2016). However, India Women were eliminated from the Group Stage in all those editions.
I wish to retire from T20Is to focus my energies on readying myself for the 2021 World Cup – Mithali Raj
In the announcement of her T20I retirement, Raj has clarified that she wants to focus entirely on the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2021.
Raj said according to the BCCI press-release, “After representing India in T20 internationals since 2006, I wish to retire from T20Is to focus my energies on readying myself for the 2021 One Day World Cup. It remains my dream to win a World Cup for my country and I want to give it my best. I thank the BCCI for their continuous support and wish the Indian T20 team good luck as they prepare for the home series against South Africa Women.”
South Africa Women will play a five-match T20I series against the hosts India Women from 24th September to 4th October 2019. Just a few days ago, PTI reported that Raj was ready to represent India women in this series. However, now she has moved away from that decision.
Mithali Raj played her last T20I on 9th March 2019 against England Women at Guwahati. While England Women won that game by just one run, Raj scored 30*.