This is the story of the inspiring Mithali Raj.

India and cricket share a special bond. Cricket is far more than just a national time pass. Cricket is a unifier of this diverse land. People irrespective of caste, colour, and creed love to watch this sport. And the bond goes beyond just fans. India has also produced some incredible cricketers over the years. These players have decorated the game with their unimaginable records. On the men’s side, Sachin Tendulkar holds the record for the highest run scored in men’s cricket. The same record is held by an Indian for women’s cricket too. The highest run-getter in women’s cricket is none other than Mithali Raj.

Mithali Raj was born in the year 1982. Her birthplace was the state of Rajasthan. Rajasthan is known for its orthodox ways and traditions. Women are expected to cover their faces with Ghunghats. Amidst these dark clouds, Mithali’s father came up as the silver lining. He was an Airman and a warrant officer for the Indian airforce. He was posted in different cities during his job. Mithali Raj travelled with her. She lived most of her life in military colonies. She was blessed with a supportive supporting environment. 

At the age of 10, Mithali started showing love for the game of Cricket. This was also the period when two things gained popularity in India. The first was television. Cricket matches were now seen by millions of Indians. The second was Sachin Tendulkar, a young talent that had taken the nation by storm. Mithali was influenced by both and now wanted to become a cricketer. 

But unlike men’s cricket, women’s cricket attracted very few people and even fewer investors. A women cricketer was not considered a permanent job. So Mithali had to play for the railways. The advantage of this was that she was given a job in Indian railways. But her talent shot her up to the national side quickly.

Mithali made her ODI debut against Ireland in the year 1999. She was just 17 years old at this time. Two years later she also made her test debut against South Africa. Her talent was quick to take over the cricketing world. Just at her third test, she broke the record for the highest individual score in a test in Women’s cricket. She overtook Karen Rolton’s 209 by 5 runs and scored a whopping 214 runs.

With the newfound talent of Mithali, India was expecting a good show in 2002’s world cup. But Mithali was taken ill by typhoid. This news broke India’s spirit and they performed poorly.

But with Mithali Raj leading the team in 2005, team India reached the finals and lost to Australia. From this point, both India and Mithali never saw back. They kept bettering their performances.

Mithali Raj was awarded the Arjuna award in 2003. And in 2015, she become the recipient of Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest citizen honour. After she announced her retirement in 2021, she was given the Khel Ratna, India’s highest sporting honour.

Measuring the greatness of a sports personality is always a difficult thing to do. Mithali Raj comes into the debate of the greatest of all time just from her numbers of runs and matches. But another factor to count on is the number of future players she inspired. From the millions of fans that came to watch the game because of her, would come a whole future generation of female cricketers for India.

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