There were times when I was almost on the verge of taking retirement: Mithali Raj

Women's CricZone Staff
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Mithali Raj in action. ©ICC

India ODI skipper Mithali Raj has revealed she thought of quitting the game at some point of time but something or the other stopped her taking that extreme step. At 37, the Hyderabad-born is the only woman cricketer to have completed two decades in the international arena having started her career at 16.

“Honestly, I never planned my career just like I don’t plan my innings. Of course, I play according to the situation and so I kind of know something but my career was different,” Mithali was quoted as saying to TOI. “There were times that I was almost on the verge of giving up and taking retirement. There were a few occasions where I thought that I should call it quits but always there was something that stopped me from doing that.

“I just went with the flow as and when things happened and played series after series. If I actually had to plan my career, 21 years is a long time to do it. To follow a habit for 21 years is a big thing. I just felt that if I have to play international cricket then I have to be at my optimum best and that is something that I have always believed in and also in consistency. No matter which phase of my career, every game has mattered to me. When walking into bat, I have always looked to perform well.”

India have played two ODI World Cup finals (2005 and 2017), both under the leadership of Mithali, but were never lucky to lift the elusive crown. And it is the only trophy that has kept her motivating all through. “I think the World Cup. That’s one thing that has been eluding me thus far and so this time I want to give it a really good shot,” said Mithali, who is the highest run-getter in women ODIs.

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“The team is shaping really well as it has done well in the One-day format and the T20s too. The overall shape of the team is very good and, considering that, I definitely think we do have a chance in the coming World Cup. Yet everything will depend on a lot of other factors – the build-up, the kind of preparation and the series we get to play before the World Cup.

“The World Cup has been one big motivating factor for me apart from playing for India and winning every match. But a World Cup triumph is something big for me,” she added. Mithali also lauded the efforts by BCCI at the domestic level as there are more matches nowadays for the players compared to 4-5 years back.

“I think the kind of domestic structure we have right now is good as we get to play more matches now than 4-5 years ago. We also have U-19, U-23 tournaments and the BCCI is making efforts to increase the number of games. Last year, we had the Emerging Series and India ‘A’ tours. This will definitely help in strengthening the bench. All these years, we struggled as there were no back up for injured players. But now youngsters can fill in as they are already touring and getting experience and that really helps,” she stated.

Speaking about retirement, Mithali brushed aside any thoughts about it as she is solely focusing on the World Cup. “I don’t plan anything. Right now my focus is on the World Cup and doing well in it is my goal. After that maybe play a few series but I don’t know what exactly. I wake up every morning with the aim of playing my best and that is something which helps me to get through the day,” she concluded.