The Women’s Cricket World Cup of 2021 would be Mithali Raj’s final attempt at having a title under her belt before calling it quits. She had led India to the finals of the competition in 2005 and 2017 but couldn’t lift the silverware.
“I am looking forward to 2021 World Cup,” said Raj in a chat with Sanjay Manjrekar on ESPNCricinfo Videocast. “Want to try one last time to bring the World Cup trophy to India in 2021. I need to keep myself motivated for 2021. I just want people to continue to support women’s cricket.”
Raj had announced her retirement from T20Is September last year and has been focusing on ODIs with an aim to play the World Cup in New Zealand. With India’s current run in ICC tournaments looking good, the Indian ODI captain can hope for a memorable swansong. After the final in the Women’s World Cup 2017, India made the semis of the T20 World Cup in 2018 and then the title-clash in 2020 before going down to the hosts Australia.
“When it comes to the final, there are nerves,” said Raj.
“Both the final, the first steps we put were very shaky. In 2017 final, we lost the first wicket in the second over. In, 2020 T20 World Cup final, Deepti (Sharma) was given the first over, she bowled a couple of full-tosses.”
Given that Raj isn’t a big-hitter, it was a touch easier for her to quit the T20Is. She has been a conventional batter and that’s how she became the leading run-scorer in ODIs.
“When I started, I was an opener,” she said explaining the reason behind her ‘slow batting’. “In my second series, the 2000 World Cup, I batted No. 3 and the strike rate was good at that time because I did not have the burden of carrying the team around me. But after that from being someone who could score 50 off 40 balls, I became someone who would start slowly.”
“No matter whichever level I played, it has always been like that because the team’s plan was that. I can’t deviate from that plan because the team wanted me to play in that way. With that kind of approach, I started scoring more runs. My role has been that for a long time. I think I was chained to a certain kind of role throughout my career.”