For Mithali Raj, it has been a wonderful journey, filled with highs and lows. In her long and illustrious career, she has witnessed quite a few transitions and has seen Indian cricket emerge as one of the strongest contenders.
“I am fortunate and grateful to God and all those who helped me to be part of this journey,” she told Sportstar hours after announcing her retirement from all forms of the game.
Making it clear that it was not an impulsive decision, Mithali said: “The decision to quit was never an impulsive or an emotional one but had been on the cards ever since I had come back from the last World Cup (50 overs) in New Zealand.”
Mithali, who led India in the World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year, insisted that she had made up her mind that it would be her last international assignment. “I have always been insisting that the World Cup would be my last international assignment. Yes, it was a huge disappointment personally and from the team’s perspective. I hoped we would make it to the semis at least,” Mithali said.
“I did have a discussion with my father and other well-wishers before I decided to call it a day. Well, it took time for me to come out of the disappointment of the World Cup. That was the reason why I played only one domestic match after that,” Mithali explained. “In a way, I was mentally preparing for this day after the World Cup…”
She made it clear that the growing criticism about her strike rate did not bother her. “These things come when you are successful and for so long at the highest level,” she said, “The high-points of my career were the 2005 and the 2017 World Cups (50 overs) and not winning the World Cup would be the biggest regret too,” she said.
Under her leadership, the Indian team reached the final of the Women’s World Cup in 2017. “I believe the 2017 edition broke many shackles as far Indian women’s cricket is concerned in terms of popularity, standard of the game. For the team showed to the world what we are capable of,” she added.
“Well, when I look back, I feel fortunate and privileged to see the evolution of women’s cricket in India from my early days to the current era when the players are more recognised and have a fan base with huge support from the BCCI too,” Mithali said.
Talking about a memorable moment in her career, she said: “I can’t pinpoint any one moment as the most memorable or any other as the most disappointing. For, I always found the ability to keep going, especially fight back from tough times, being mentally more tough and gaining in confidence. I have never let any distraction get the better of me.”
After announcing her retirement on Wednesday, Mithali put out a statement on social media indicating that she is looking forward to her ‘second innings’. “I will definitely look at the options available for me when I look ahead. Given a choice by the BCCI, I prefer to come into the administration. I know what the players need at different stages to take the sport to the next level,” Mithali said.