Mumbai: On September 3, the world came to a standstill, when female Indian cricketer Mithali Raj announced her decision to retire from T20Is.
Having played 89 T20Is, including the three Women’s WT20 World Cups in 2012 (Sri Lanka), 2014 (Bangladesh) and 2016 (India), the 36-year-old cricketer bade goodbye to the shortest format, after amassing T20I 2364 runs.
Recently, the retired T20I cricketer opened up on her decision to retire and revealed what made her take such drastic step.
In an exclusive with the Hindustan times, Mithali stated that the reports, which stated that she was available for the T20Is versus South Africa, had misquoted her. And, those reports came during the start of 2019, but not a day before.
“Well no, I was misquoted. It was coming from early this year. It was not something that came overnight.”
Stating whether her retirement would affect her, the Indian cricketer said, “Well it can be seen in a positive manner as well. You get time to work on your fitness, do all those things which you couldn’t at one point—fitness sessions, walks, running, building your endurance, working on strength, etc. It gives me more time now to work on my skill as well. So, I now have more time to completely work on myself as a player.”
When asked if the T20I format seemed hard, the former T20I player said, “I wouldn’t say it was easy because my preparation for the T20 format was equally hard too. But then yes I took time and any decision isn’t easy but life is all about moving forward. That’s what sports has also taught me.”
When asked about her next goal, the veteran cricketer stated, “Well it is just a goal. You have 2019 and 2020 to finish up first. It’s a goal I’m trying to work towards.”
Stating that winning the 2021 is her biggest motivation, the 36-year-old said, “Well at different stages of your career you have different factors that get you motivated. At this juncture, I wanted badly that India should win the World Cup. That is something which has evaded me in the past and that is something I want to give one last shot. So that is something that motivates me immensely even now to look forward.”
Describing the mental challenges a veteran faces when the player is nearing the end, Raj said, “I think when an athlete is playing for a long period, or for years, we tend to prioritise things. At the same time, an athlete takes up a lot to challenges to reach a certain period. Yes Indians believe a lot in stats and numbers and it’s a part of every sport and every athlete. But I guess at the end of the day the athlete knows where they stand.”
Describing India’s youngest female T20I debutant, Raj expressed, “I think she’s a very talented youngster. And given the right kind of exposure she can be an asset to Indian team in the future.”
Citing the challenges she has faced right from the beginning, Raj stated that defeating Australia on their home-turf was the biggest task.
“The T20I series in Australia (in 2015/16 where India beat Australia 2-1),” concluded Mithali, who spoke on the sidelines of a Sketchers Performance Mumbai Walkathon event in Mumbai on Thursday. The marathon is slated to take place on November 24....