Destiny had other plans for dance-loving Mithali, says father

The Indian captain was keen on becoming a dancer, but instead chalked out a glorious cricket career.

Mithali Raj was enrolled with a cricket coaching camp to have her get up early from bed.   -  Vivek Bendre

Excellence in her chosen profession notwithstanding, it’s the transition from Bharatnatyam to cricket that makes Mithali Raj’s glorious story a compelling one.

The Indian captain has created a world record by becoming the highest run-getter in women’s ODIs and the first player to cross 6,000 runs. The 34-year-old from Hyderabad achieved the landmark during the ICC World Cup match against Australia on Wednesday.

Read: Mithali shrugs off record-breaking feat

“Mithali was keen on becoming a dancer. However, destiny seemed to have had other plans for her,” father Dorai Raj said, recalling those early years when she would practice her steps for the stage.

Mithali’s father, who was an officer with the Indian Air Force and later joined the Andhra Bank, started taking his daughter to the St. John’s coaching camp in Secunderabad when she was 10. R. S. R. Murthy, who has been associated with Mithali since she joined Railways in 2000, applauded her talent and dedication.

“It’s a great achievement. I am feeling very happy. She achieved this milestone because of her hard work and dedication. I wish many more achievements in her career. She has become a role model, not only in the country but in the world,” he told PTI. “She made several sacrifices, cutting down on attending social events, for the sake of her career.”

At 19, she emerged as one of India’s best batters with a staggering 214 against England in the second and final Test at Taunton. In 1999, she became the youngest ODI centurion when she scored 114 in her debut match against Ireland at Milton Keynes. Playing for Railways in the domestic competition, Raj started by playing with the likes of Purnima Rau, Anjum Chopra and Anju Jain for Air India, and the journey that saw her surpass those big names continues.

Dorai Raj, who is also into cricket coaching, said he gives advice to Raj but leaves the decision on her. Dorai Raj says she took Raj to a cricket camp to ensure she got up early from bed. The late riser eventually turned out to be more promising than her brother, who was being coached at the same camp.

Under the watchful eyes of Sampath Kumar at Keyes School, Raj honed her game and it did not take long for the strict coach to predict that she would not only go on to play for India but also break many records.

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