Mithali Raj has been at the helm of women’s cricket in India for about two decades now, and it was fitting that she started the ICC Women’s World Cup of 2017 poised to overtake former England captain Charlotte Edwards’ tally of 5992 ODI runs. Before the Pakistan match, she had 5852 runs at a stunning average of 52.05, and given the excellent batsman she is, it is expected that she will come out as the world’s highest run-getter by the end of the tournament. That is not the sole milestone that Raj has notched up in this tournament – the 34 year-old also became the first individual to notch seven consecutive half centuries in ODI cricket when she scored 78 against England in India’s first game of the World Cup, a record that speaks volumes about the consistency and the extent to which the Indian team has leaned on her batting prowess in their meteoric rise. The team itself, led by Raj, has scored 18 wins in the last 19 ODIs since February 2016, a record that few teams can boast of.
Raj began her career with a bang, scoring a century on her debut at Milton Keyes against Ireland. Since then, she has been an essential part of the Indian team, playing in 178 ODIs and captaining the Indian team for the better part of them. Her typhoid in the 2002 World Cup caused the Indian team to lose its feet, but she came back to lead them to the finals of the 2005 World Cup, and then to India’s first Test and series victory in England in August 2006. Raj has scored five centuries in her ODI career, and a singular double century in Tests, against England at Taunton in 2002. The 19 year-old Mithali was playing only her third Test, and her score of 214 was the highest individual score at the time, to be surpassed only Kiran Baluch’s 242 against West Indies 2004.
This World Cup may be Mithali’s last, and her surpassing of the ODI record seems fitting for the most talented batter in women’s cricket today. She will be hoping to marshal her team enough to go the extra mile and win the much coveted trophy, and the manner of India’s thrashing of England in the first match and the decimation of West Indies in the second speaks of glory to come.