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In Stats: Mithali Raj Is a Cricket Great. Fine. But Just How Great?

Mithali Raj is not merely the leading ODI run-scorer of all time, she is far ahead of anyone else.

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Cricket
4 min read
In Stats: Mithali Raj Is a Cricket Great. Fine. But Just How Great?
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Mithali Raj’s role in the revolution of women’s cricket in India – a journey far from complete, one must admit – is undeniable. Her achievements, as an individual and a captain, in the first decade of this century, had inspired many girls across the country to take up cricket.

In a country where joining sport as a sustainable profession is a challenge for almost every woman, Raj came as an role model, breaking world records and leading India to famous Test wins overseas and to their only appearances in the World Cup final.

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While it is difficult to measure her influence by numbers, the records and achievements stand out. If anything, there are too many of them to list.

Does one start with the record-breaking double hundred?

Test cricket, as many fans will remind you, is the ‘ultimate’ test for a cricketer. Back in 2002, India were having a torrid time on their tour of England: they were bowled out for 59, 26, and 95 in three of the ODIs. Then they conceded 329 to England in the Test match, and were reduced to 45/2 when Raj joined captain Anjum Chopra on the second afternoon.

By the time she fell on the fourth morning, she had scored 214 – at that time the highest score in Women’s Test cricket, five more than Karen Rolton’s 209 not out against Headingley from a year before. Raj’s record has been surpassed only once, by Kiran Baluch (242) in her last Test match.

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Raj made her Test debut in 2001-02 but played only 12 times for India, which speaks volumes about how differently cricket treats the two genders. For perspective, English cricketer Joe Root played 21 Test matches in 2021 alone.

Raj led India in eight of her 12 Test matches. India won three of these Test matches and lost only once. The record, while impressive, may not seem out of the world – unless one considers the fact that India have won only two other Test matches in their history.

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In fact, only two captains – Lyn Larsen and Molly Hide – have led their sides to more Test wins than Raj, while four others have led them to as many triumphs.

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However, given how infrequently she played the format, Test cricket did not have a chance to become Mithali's greatest legacy. ODIs, on the other hand, provide a larger sample – for no one played anything close to her 232 matches. Barring Jhulan Goswami (201), Raj’s compatriot and perhaps as responsible for holding the team together in the 21st century, and Charlotte Edwards (191), no one else has played more than 154 ODIs.

Raj is not merely the leading ODI run-scorer of all time, she is so far ahead of anyone else that there is no one else in the vicinity. And barring Meg Lanning, no one in the top 10 has a superior batting average.

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The difference looks even more staggering when we consider only Indian batters. Raj has more ODI runs than the next two Indian batters – Harmanpreet Kaur and Anjum Chopra – put together. In fact, only six Indian batters have scored over 2,000 ODI runs, but Raj is the only one to have scored more than 3,000. As for averages, no one in the top six is even remotely close to her 50.68.

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Raj holds the record for the most ODI scores in excess of fifty (71), some distance ahead of Charlotte Edwards’s tally of 55. They are the only ones to have reached fifty 50 times in ODIs.

In 2017, Raj had a run of 70*, 64, 73*, 51*, 54, 62*, and 71 – the only instance of a batter from any country scoring seven consecutive fifties in Women’s ODIs. There has been only one other streak of five by an Indian, in 2021: by Raj herself.

Her 1,321 runs in the World Cup (at 47.17), is next to only Debbie Hockley’s 1,501, while she is the only one with 13 fifty-plus scores.

Her tendency to play the long innings hampered her strike rate in the shortest format. The Indian team management left her out of the playing XI during the 2018 T20 World Cup, leading to much acrimony. She retired from the format last year.

Even then, she was the first Indian to score 2,000 runs in T20Is. And well over three years after she has played a T20 International for the last time, her 2,364 runs and 17 half-centuries both remain the most for India.

Raj’s are, indeed, enormous shoes to fill.

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(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor of CricketNews by day and biryani demolisher at night. He is the co-author of Sachin and Azhar at Cape Town, and tweets @ovshake42.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Mithali Raj 

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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