One of the most decorated in the women’s category, Mithali Raj is one of the star names in the Indian squad. She is leading run-getter in the ODI format altogether. She has been representing the nation for more than 20 years now. She first came to the ranks back in 1999. Just like the names like ‘Gavaskar’ and ‘Tendulkar’ were associated with the Indian Men's team, she represents the Women's team for many. She became the first player to play 200 ODIs recently and that too at an astonishing average of 51.3. Her test and T20 averages are 51.0 and 37.4 respectively. These are some great numbers as far as the Women's division is concerned.
India suffered a whitewash in the recently concluded T20 series at the hands of New Zealand’s Women's team. In the first two matches of the series, Raj was left on the bench. And came to bat at number 5 in the last game. The game went right down to the wire and New Zealand sealed the series 3-0 at the end. She came in the spotlight in the better half of last year where she was left out of the semi-final match against England in the T20 World Cup. She went on air to claim that coach Ramesh Pawar was unfair to her.
Here we look at the top 3 reasons why Mithali Raj should not be included in the T20 squad:
She doesn't fit into the vision: Every new coach comes with a new vision. To take the team forward and reach new heights. They make tough calls and try to cut the woodwork. It's fair to say that WV Raman doesn't have him in his plans. She was left on the bench in the first two T20 internationals against New Zealand. And came to bat at number 5 in the third match which wasn't that much significant as New Zealand had already wrapped up the series.
She has lost her charisma to a bit: When she came to bat in the third match, the asking rate was close to 7.5. A confident and in-form Raj could have buried the game right away. But she scored only 24 runs in 20 balls with a mere strike rate of 120. Hence, failed to take her side through. They fell short of only 2 runs in the end. Next up is England at home and she will lead the side in the ODIs. It will be interesting to see how she performs!
Should consider voluntary retirement from the T20 format: It's not a pleasing sight to see a player of such high stature on the bench. She has arguably been the best player that India has ever seen. It's quite easy to guess that the Raj doesn’t fit into the vision for the next World Cup. She is 36-years-old already and it is difficult to gauge how much more time can see perform at the top level. Age has certainly started to take a toll on him, in the 20-over format at least.
With retirement from the T20s in mind, the next weeks and months could be vital for her future.