Top batswoman Mithali Raj announced her retirement from T20 Internationals earlier this week as she wanted to dedicate more time focusing on the 2021 ODI World Cup. With 89 T20 Internationals under her belt, the 36-year-old cricketer is leaving as India’s top-scorer in the format, boasting 2,364 runs, 17 fifties, and a career-high 97 points not out.
She has captained Indian in three Women’s T20 World Cups: 2012 (Sri Lanka), 2014 (Bangladesh) and 2016 (India). She last played for Indian in a T20 match back in March 2019 against England when she finished unbeaten on 30 off 32 balls.
Mithali Shares Dream Of Winning ODI World Cup
Mithali is one of the most popular and prominent faces in the Indian women’s cricket team. She told media that she wants to finish her career with an ODI World Cup championship and her decision to retire from T20 international cricket is to keep herself fit and ready to play the 2021 One Day World Cup.
The T20 retirement does come as a bit of a surprise as just last week she expressed interest in playing for India in their T20 series against South Africa which starts on September 24. However, there was speculation as to whether the team wanted her back. The sudden decision to call it quits in T20 internationals looks like she wasn’t an automatic pick for the T20 series.
Leaving With Many Controversies
Her early T20 Internationals retirement may be a respite of sorts for Mithali who has been hounded by controversy in these past few months.
India lost to England in the last T20I World Cup semi-final in November 2018, after Mithali was dropped from the team. Reports suggest that she was deliberately dropped from the team due to a rift with India’s current T20 skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and then coach Ramesh Powar.
Powar alleges that Mithali had threatened to quit if she wasn’t permitted to open the innings. The controversy eventually simmered down with Mithali handpicked to lead India’s last two T20 series against New Zealand and England.
The Indian team has begun grooming younger players for the next T20 World Cup in February 2020, effectively giving Mithali a smaller role to play in the team. Kaur explained that the team was looking to give younger girls more opportunities to play and hone their skills so that they can be prepared for the T20 World Cup and the 2021 ODI World Cup.
It will be interesting to see if Mithali Raj continues to be a part of the ODI squad going forward.