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Mithali Raj The Record Maker Of Indian Women Cricket

India skipper Mithali Raj scripted history when she overtook former England Charlotte Edwards to become the highest run-scorer across format in women's cricket. The veteran cricketer achieved the feat during India women's four-wicket win against England women in the third and final ODI in Worcester. India, chasing 220 runs in a truncated 47-over match, secured victory with three balls to spare. Raj starred with an unbeaten knock of 75, off just 86 balls, and was declared the Player of the Match. The batter got to the milestone with a boundary down the ground off Nat Schiver in the 23rd over of the innings. Mithali, who needed just 12 runs to go past the tally, became the world's most prolific batter in women's internationals by overtaking Edwards' 10,273 runs. Third in this prolific list is New Zealand's Suzie Bates, who has scored 7849 runs in 247 matches. She is followed by West Indies' Stefanie Taylor, with 7834 runs in 256 matches. Capping off the top-five is Australia's skipper Meg Lanning, with 7024 runs in 199 games.

Raj, 38, has several other accolades to her name, one of which is the most-capped player in the history of women's cricket. She was also named in ICC's ODI team of the decade in 2020. Moreover, she famously led the Indian side to the women's World Cup final in 2017. Raj was in good nick throughout the series, emerging as the highest run-getter with 206 runs with threeback-to-back fifties. Earlier in the day, Raj-led India put England into bat. After cruising at 151/3, England were eventually bowled out for 291, courtesy of a three-wicket haul from Deepti Sharma. Skipper Heather Knight (46) and Sciver (49) were the top scorers. In response, India kept losing wickets at regular intervals but Raj continued to hold one end and hence, taking India to a consolation victory. Smriti Mandhana was the second-highest contributor with the bat, scoring 49 off 57 balls. Mithali Raj returns to No. 1 among ODI batters, for the eighth time in her career. India's ODI captain had reached the top for the first time in 2005, more than 16 years ago.

On July 12, 2017, during the league stage of the 11th edition of the ODI World Cup, Raj went past Edwards to become the highest rungetter in women's ODIs. In the same match, against Australia, she became the first batter to cross 6000 runs in the format. Her 57 fifties, two of which came in the last two innings against England in the ongoing multi-format series, are the most by a woman in ODIs.

Raj quit T20I cricket in September 2019 and is placed at No. 7 on the list of the leading runscorers in the format, with 2364 runs at an average of 37.52 and strike rate of 96.33. Harmanpreet Kaur, who succeeded Raj to T20I captaincy, is the only other Indian in the top ten of that chart. In Tests, her 669 runs from 11 matches at an average of 44.60 are the fourth-most among India Women players and highest among Indians still active in the women's international cricket.

Although Team Indian (W) was not able to win the series, Mithali Raj showcased some outstanding batting performance as she struck back to back half-centuries in the 3-match India vs England ODI series. However, the 38-year-old cricketer had to face criticism on social media for her 'low strike rate' after India lost the first ODI against England by eight wickets. Mithali Raj scored a valiant 72 off 108 balls before getting dismissed off Sophie Ecclestone's bowling. Mithali Raj during the post-match press conference on Saturday spoke
on the criticism about her low strike rate. Indian women's team skipper clarified that she plays according to the role assigned to her by the team management adding that she does
not play to please people. "I do read criticism about my strike-rate, but as I have said earlier also, I don't seek validation from people. I have played for a long-time and I know that I have a certain responsibility in the team. I don't look to please people, I am here to play the role which has been assigned to me by the team management," said Mithali Raj.

Anchoring India's chase with her assuring knock, India skipper Mithali Raj said she wanted to be in the midst of action to not only finish the game but also to guide her
younger teammates. On the day she became the highest run-getter in women's cricket across all formats, Mithali scored an unbeaten 75 to help India overhaul a 220-run target in the
final ODI to hand India a consolation win. The game became a bit tense in the end but Mithali held her nerve. "I never gave up in the middle. It's being in the middle, because you
can't win the match sitting out in the dugout. I wanted to win the game for the team," Mithali said at the postmatch presentation ceremony.

“We just needed one good partnership to take us through. I knew I could manage the game in the middle overs, but when you have young players you have to guide them. I have enjoyed chasing. I wanted to be there and win the game for the team, I picked the bowlers to attack and along the way guided Sneh Rana. It is always good to have an all-rounder in the side, she (Sneh) has been phenomenal for us throughout the series," Raj said.

Former Australia women's team captain Lisa Sthalekar has expressed her amazement at Indian veteran Mithali Raj's ability to consistently deliver with her recordbreaking willow while chasing. "Really the star of the day was Mithali Raj, she showed us exactly why she has continued to keep breaking records. It just shows you the class that she is," Sthalekar said. "Because she chases so well, I think she averages over 100 in ODI chases, just an outstanding feat," added Sthalekar.

"She stands there before she faces the ball, she looks at the field, she looks up, adjusts the helmet and away she goes. And because she is chasing she knows when to switch, she does that so well that you wonder and you get frustrated sometimes that why can't she do that when India is setting. I know having bowled to her, you bowl a number of dots and out of nowhere she picks you up and hits you straight back over your head. With so much ease she does, I can't understand why you don't do that more often than not, but it doesn't
matter in this case," Sthalekar added.

To celebrate the occasion, the BCCI on Sunday put on a special tweet, highlighting Raj's outstanding achievement. With Mithali surpassing Edwards on Saturday, the record for the leading international run-scorer in both men's and women's cricket belong to cricketers from India with Raj joining Sachin Tendulkar. Mithali, who has retired from T20 cricket in
2019, has already hinted that the 2022 Women's ODI World Cup will be her swansong. It will be held in New Zealand from March 4 to April 3.

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