Mithali Raj announces retirement from T20Is

The former Indian T20 captain said she wishes to focus on winning the 2021 World Cup for the country in her statement. Her coach calls it a disappointing end to a brilliant career

Mithali Raj is the first Indian to reach the 2000-run landmark in T20s.   -  Getty Images

Mithali Raj has announced her retirement from T-20 cricket internationals on Tuesday.

For someone who has played 89 T-20 internationals scoring a record 2364 runs with 17 fifties at an average of 37.52, 36-year-old Mithali told Sportstar that she had made up her mind for the simple reason that she would not be playing in the T-20 World Cup next year.

“Since, my idea is that the team management can groom some one else in my place for that major event, I have decided enough is enough with this format,” Mithali said. "I am not leaving with any heavy heart. There are no ill-feelings. I enjoy playing the game and will continue to do so in any format I prefer to play," she asserted.

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“I must say that I was pretty pleased with my T-20 career which had actually started late in my career (she made her T-20 international debut in 2006 having played for India in ODI in 1999). I have no regrets and enjoyed batting at different positions,” the star cricketer said.

“However, I will continue to play in the ODIs and will be preparing in right earnest for the home series against South Africa before flying to West Indies for another series,” says the India one-day captain.

“Well, any format has been a learning curve for me and I have really enjoyed all formats to be honest,” she said.

Mithali refused to pick any particular moment as one of her high-points in the T-20 career but was glad that she could score more than 2000 runs and be the first Indian to do so in the format.

“Let make it clear that for whatever team I played, I was never short of commitment and passion to give off my best,” she said.

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“Yes, the focus will now shift to prepare for the 2021 ODI World Cup for it remains my dream to win that for my country,” Mithali said,

“I am grateful to  he BCCI for their continuous support and wish the Indian T-20 team good luck as they prepare for the home series against South Africa,” she said.

For his part, Mithali’s mentor-cum-coach R.S.R. Murthy of South Central Railway (where Mithali is also an employee), felt it was a disappointing end to what has been a truly brilliant career.

“Personally, I would have loved her to play in the next T-20 World Cup given her class and experience. Anyhow, since it is her personal decision, we have to respect her sentiments and hope she will definitely realise of leading India to World Cup victory next time,” he concluded.

Reactions to her decision have already started coming in, with commentator Harsha Bhogle leading tributes to a stellar T20 career.