Will Mithali Raj retire from T20Is after World T20 fiasco in West Indies?

first_imgMithali Raj has the swagger that could have earned her million dollar contracts if she were playing men’s cricket in India. She nonchalantly reads books before going out to bat in World Cup matches, shuts down journalists who come up with borderline sexist questions.On top of all this, Raj scores runs, plenty of them. The 35-year-old cricketer from Rajasthan is the leading run-scorer in women’s ODIs. With 6550 runs at an average of 51.17, Raj is well ahead of the chasing pack that has several big names from women’s cricket.Raj has served Indian cricket for 20 years and for the most part, shouldered the burden of the team single-handedly. She didn’t always have the luxury to hold her pose after a cracking drive, considering broadcast deals were an unknown entity in women’s cricket until very recently. But she kept scoring, winning matches for the team like no else before her had done.And that’s why when she was dropped from the Indian playing XI for the World T20 semi-final against England in the Caribbean last week, there was a huge furore back in the country. Fans lashed out at the team selection that arguably cost India a place in the final. Experts pitched in and Raj’s manager blasted captain Harmanpreet Kaur on Twitter before deleting her post.Also read: Ganguly relates to Mithali’s omission from World T20 semi-final: ‘Welcome to the group’ Raj had scored a couple of match-winning fifties in the group stages wherein India looked unstoppable. However, she was forced to sit out of their final round-robin match against Australia with a knee injury.advertisementRaj was declared fit on the eve of the semi-final but India insisted on going in with a winning combination that saw their most experienced player warm the benches. When India collapsed from 89 for 2 to 112 all-out, Raj’s straight face that was captured by the television cameras told the entire story.Also read: Mithali Raj ‘terribly disappointed’ after World T20 semis axing, says personal coachRaj’s strike-rate, which has been around run-a-ball in the shortest format of the game, had been a cause of concern for quite some time now. At a time when India are looking ahead, especially after the arrival of coach Ramesh Powar, the senior campaigner was no longer a certain starter in T20Is.Raj has scored 575 runs from 22 innings in 2018 at an average of 35.93 but her performances in the lead-up to the tournament were far from impressive. Eventually, the right-hander didn’t get to bat in the tournament opener wherein India amassed 194 runs.However, in low-scoring matches, especially against arch-rivals Pakistan, Raj’s experience augured well for Harmanpreet’s side. Notably, Raj opened the innings for the team and hit a match-winning 47-ball 56.As it turns out, Raj had a difficult time throughout the tournament as there was quite a lot of uncertainty surrounding her place in the side, according to Mid-Day. The batting snub in the opening match didn’t help either as she didn’t have a fixed batting position in the recent past.Raj was reportedly told about her omission from the playing XI for the semi-final only after the pre-match warm-up – a gesture that had left her “terribly disappointed”, according to her personal coach RSR Murthy.Even if Raj’s axing is being projected as a tactical move by the management, the message has been sent out loud and clear. The veteran’s time as part of the Indian setup in the shortest format is up and if reports are to be believed, Raj has come to terms with it.The “harsh treatment” meted to Raj at the World T20 has pushed her into contemplating retirement from the shortest format of the game, according to the news daily.Notably, Raj wasn’t thinking about quitting the T20I formats and had wanted to continue playing even after the global spectacle in the Caribbean but the latest turn of events seems to have influenced her decision. Nonetheless, Raj had conceded during the tournament that she wouldn’t be playing another World T20 for the country.The seasoned campaigner, who is still the captain of the women’s ODI team, is seemingly hopeful of playing the 2021 World Cup. Raj may want to focus solely on building a team for the global 50-over spectacle and she has ample time to do so.Far from ideal circumstances for Team IndiaMeanwhile, It remains to be seen if the reported rift between two of the superstar cricketers of the women’s team – Raj and Harmanpreet – will have an impact on team in the near future.advertisementHarmanpreet is undoubtedly one of the most popular women’s cricketers in the world, let alone in the country. Her unbeaten 171 against Australia in the Women’s World Cup semi-final last year is arguably among the best World Cup knocks ever played.However, Harmanpreet has had a tough time in one-day cricket since her magnificent hundred over a year ago. Since her second ODI hundred in 2013, the 29-year-old has scored only one century and has been under-par in the ongoing season wherein she has managed just 195 runs 12 matches at 21.66.What if and there’s a big IF – Harmanpreet has to be dropped because of her lack of runs in the one-day format? Will that be seen as an act of revenge by Mithali the ODI skipper, no matter how tactical the reason is? These are not ideal circumstances for a team and far from ideal.Mithali’s experience could have been vital against England in the semi-final. Her manager (she later said she did not manage Mithali) muddied the waters further with her explosive comments against Harmanpreet. Who knows what the mood will be in the Indian team like? Maybe the women will put this behind them and focus on the challenges that lay ahead.And if Mithalai decides to hang up her boots in T20s, it will be a setback that the Indian team will not be immediately able to deal with.Also see:last_img

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