Mithali Raj: 2022 World Cup will be my swansong

Mithali, the only women's cricketer with 7000- plus ODI runs, also spoke about how she had to keep herself motivated during the COVID-19 times which also pushed the global event by one year.

Indian ODI skipper Mithali Raj insisted that it doesn’t mean she will stop playing ODI cricket after next year’s World Cup.   -  V.V.Subrahmanyam

Mithali Raj says the 2022 World Cup in New Zealand will be her last edition but that she will be looking to play in a home series before taking a final call on whether to continue playing International cricket or not.

For someone who made her international debut in 1999 scoring an unbeaten 114 against Ireland at Milton Keynes, the 38-year-old Mithali says not winning the World Cup has been her biggest regret.

“Yes, I am desperate to be part of a World Cup winning team.

READ: Mithali Raj reaches 7000-run mark in ODIs, extends run as highest run-getter in the format

Otherwise, it has been an immensely satisfying career for me and I take pride in my consistency, longevity at the highest level,” Mithali says in a chat with Sportstar on Saturday.

Mithali insisted that it doesn’t mean she will stop playing ODI cricket after next year’s World Cup.

“Hopefully, I will be playing in my sixth World Cup if the situation improves because of the pandemic but I will be looking to take a final decision on playing any international’s ticket after a home series next year,” says the champion cricketer who is training daily under the watchful eyes of her mentor-cum-coach R.S.R. Murthy at St John’s Sports Foundation here.

For someone who is also chasing another record of sorts of having the longest tenure in international cricket after the batting legend Sachin Tendulkar (she will be into the 23rd year of international cricket next year if everything goes according to her plans), Mithali says the pandemic has definitely hit women’s cricket for sure.

“We were supposed to have some camps around this time but this second wave has undone all the planning we have had. Everyone is so scared now, understandably. It is so uncertain all over,” she said.

“Hopefully, we will be going to England and play the Test match there which will be the second after the 2014 game,” she said.

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Pathbreaker: Mithali Raj, India's Test and ODI captain, became the first woman to score 7,000 runs in the 50-format, amassing seven centuries and 54 fifties at an average of 50.53, just days after becoming just the first Indian and second woman overall to score 10,000 international runs.   -  Vijay Soneji

 

“Ideally, we should start planning for the next World Cup having Plan A and B. We have to have more options in bowling and not just spin bowling. We need to work on our fast bowlers and there are quite a few talented who need to be groomed in a camp where gelling with seniors takes place for the good,” Mithali said.

READ: Mithali Raj wins Sportstar Aces female cricketer of the decade

“Over the years I gained a lot of confidence as a player and as a captain. There were disappointments for sure. But again falling and getting up again made me far more stronger mentally, helped me develop resilience,” she says. “These are things which the world cannot see. It only looks at peaks and lows of a cricketer. Certainly, each time I climbed up, it revealed a lot of my traits as a player and a human being,” she added.

“Well, all I hope is we have a structured planning in building a combination which should help us win the World Cup,” Mithali signed off.

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