The hunger to score runs for India has never dried up: Mithali Raj
Mithali Raj ©Getty Images
When they needed to win the match to stay in the hunt for the multi-format series against England, India registered their first win of the tour by four wickets thanks to outstanding fielding display, Deepti Sharma’s three-fer and Mithali Raj leading from the front with an unbeaten 75 and denied England two points in the final ODI at the County Ground in Worcester on Saturday (July 03).
During the course of the match-winning knock, Raj went past former England captain Charlotte Edwards’s 10,273 to become the highest run-scorer across formats. A lofted shot down the ground for four in the 24th over saw India’s most decorated player getting to the coveted milestone. Raj already has more than 7000 runs in ODIs and is the highest run-getter in the format.
“It was not an easy journey. It had its own trials and challenges. I have always believed that trials always have a purpose,” said Raj, reflecting on her record. “There were times when I wanted to give up for various reasons but the hunger to score runs for India has never dried up. I am still very passionate to score runs and win games for India.”
Before coming back to the winning way, India lost first two ODIs defending the total. Raj scored half-centuries in both matches and played the role of the anchor but dominant England chased down those moderate targets without much discomfort.
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“The role that is assigned to me over the years is of taking responsibility of (the) batting unit and play throughout. That is something that I have always done,” said Raj, who scored 206 runs across the three ODIs. “Chasing gives me a better picture of building the innings with other batters in the middle and I am able to control the game.”
For India, allrounder Sneh Rana has been the find of the tour with performances in the one-off Test and the last two ODIs. Her 24 off 22 balls were vital in the chase. Earlier, she also chipped in with a wicket of Lauren Winfield-Hill when England were looking to build a solid foundation. Raj understands the demands of modern cricket and the role allrounders play in the team composition.
“At that position, we have looked for someone who can clear the boundary. It helps to have a player who can also bowl. She has shown that she has the character to be built into a good player. I hope she has a bigger role to play for India in the near future," Raj said while talking about Rana's contributions.
Punam Raut and Jemimah Rodrigues batted at number three for the visitors and scored only 44 runs between them in the series. With the World Cup in New Zealand only eight months away, India would be looking to find someone who can give them solidity and some impetus at the start of the innings.
“We have few players in mind but (it’s a matter of) how they fit in the team. The composition of the team is very crucial. That is the one area we are looking for," Raj added.
England currently leads the multi-format series six points to four, Raj appeared confident that India can still comeback in the series and register a win with performances in the T20-leg of the tour.
“That’s what I told the girls, we are still in the series. Winning a game like this puts pressure on them. If they go on to win the first two games it will be decided for the last game and the series will be excitedly placed and I am sure girls will do well in T20 format," Raj concluded.