Legendary Indian captain Mithali Raj hinted at retirement following India’s early exit from the Women’s World Cup. The 39-year-old skipper was disheartened as she reflected on India’s defeat by South Africa in an end-over thriller in the final group match of the World Cup at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Sunday.
Mithali Raj is likely to close the curtain on a celebrated career that has seen her play 6 world championships. The influential Indian skipper had guided the team to the final of the 2017 World Cup but an inconsistent run meant India could not give their skipper a proper farewell.
Mithali Raj and her girls were heartbroken as South Africa successfully chased a 275 run target after much drama in the final over. Defending seven runs in the final over, off-spinner Deepti Sharma overstepped when well-placed batter Mignon du Preez was caught too long.
The moment of happiness turned to desperation as the equation, as India batted at fifty, presented another chance to Mignon. The South Africa star took full advantage of the opportunity as she helped the Proteas women cross the finish line in the final 3-goal delivery.
Heading into their final group game against unbeaten South Africa, India needed no less than a win to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
Update: India’s campaign in the #CWC22 find an end. South Africa needed 1 from the last ball and managed to get the winning run.
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) March 27, 2022
EMOTIONAL MITHALI NOTES ON RETIREMENT
India missed the services of senior pacer Jhulan Goswami as she suffered a wobble.
The heartbreak could well mark the end of the glorious careers of Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami. Two senior activists had hinted ahead of the World Cup that this could be their last tournament in Indian colors.
After the defeat, Mithali said: “Everything should come to an end, it will take time to calm emotions, but this is sport. Thank you to everyone who has been at every Indian game, it was nice to hear your cheering for your continued support of the girls and the Indian women’s team.”
“Her experience (Jhulan Goswami) would have added a lot, but this was a challenge for the other girls to improve,” Mithali added.
THE GIRLS GAVE EVERYTHING
The skipper, who finishes as the leading runner in women’s cricket, praised the team for their efforts and attitude, even in the tense situation against South Africa.
“Personally I think the girls gave it their all, it was an important game, it was a good game, it ended our campaign but I’m proud of the girls for coming this far. With the bowlers we had I thought 275 would be a good total, we had defended similar totals in the past,” she added.
Mithali Raj had hit a fifty (68 of 84) after opener Smritit Mandhana hit a quick 71 to help India after 274. Despite India falling back with the ball, South Africa kept their nerve and shot down the target to beat back a million hearts in India.
Mithali, who made her debut in 1999, played 231 ODIs and hit 7737 runs, a women’s ODI record that included 7 hundreds. She also played 12 Tests and 89 T20Is.