India ODI skipper Mithali Raj has been under house arrest since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and admitted that this is the first time since school she is making a timetable for herself. Mithali, who has been playing domestic cricket for Indian Railways and went on a short trip to Australia and New Zealand in March, was due to resume her domestic duties from March 14 when the Coronavirus struck.
“This is the first time in my life, everybody’s life, that we’re experiencing a lockdown like this,” Raj told Hindustan Times. “The last time I made a timetable was in school, to organise my life around cricket, dance and school. These days, it helps when I wake up and have something to look forward to.”
Apart from staying fit, her timetable incorporates family time and some cleaning. She’s been waking up at 5:30 am these days (‘not something you get to do when playing, because your body is trying to take in every minute of sleep’) to do her morning exercises while her mother goes on her walking rounds, as the sun rises.
“(On tour) We’re usually cooped up in our hotels, trying to catch every bit of sleep during the training season, or out on the field. There’s never been time to catch the sunrise or sunset every day like this,” she said.
After her evening round of exercises on the terrace, Mithali sits with her father to watch the news and keep up-to-date with what’s happening around the globe during.
“My conversations with my father in the past rarely went beyond discussing my finances and cricket,” said Mithali, the highest run-getter in ODIs. “But now, dinner conversations are about what’s happening in the world around us.”
Known as an avid reader, the lockdown has also given her time to catch up on some heavy reading. She just finished ‘The Barefoot Coach’ by Paddy Upton, the psychologist for the men’s cricket team, and is currently reading ‘White Mughals’ by William Dalrymple. “During intense training periods, as my energy is zapped, I keep it light, something I can breeze through. But now since there’s a lot of time, I can dig into the heavier books,” she added.
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Mithali has also been lucky to get some time to dig out some old memorabilia from her childhood playing days. “I have so many things, mementos, uniforms, other paraphernalia, that’s been lying there from the early ’90s. One gem I found in that was my cap from Sports Glory Club, the first club I ever belonged to in ’93 – ’94,” she said.
Yet no amount of nostalgia beats the feeling of meeting friends and India teammates on the ground. Training has been a part of her life for so many years that an abrupt end to it has left her missing the game terribly. “I miss that gathering of my teammates and friends,” she said. With most of her teammates trying their hands at cooking and exploring new culinary skills, Mithali has been strict on diet even during the lockdown.
“I can’t indulge in extravagant food right now, because we’re all under lockdown and I can’t expend the energy,” she explained. She has started an intermittent fasting routine according to which she eats breakfast by 9 am and finishes dinner at 7 pm, a schedule she cannot keep during the active season.
“It took a couple of days to adjust, but then my body was quick to understand the new schedule and adjusted to it instantly. People say intermittent fasting is difficult, but I find that you can train your body to understand your needs at any given time. It works for you,” she concluded.