Mithali Raj: Top-order batters crucial to World Cup fortunes


Mithali Raj wants her top-order batters to shoulder responsibility in the upcoming ICC ODI World Cup (March 4 to April 2) in New Zealand. 

India will begin their campaign in the eight-nation tournament against Pakistan on March 6 at Mount Maunganui.

Before the World Cup, Team India will play a solitary T20I and five ODIs against Kiwis starting February 9 in Napier.

Back in 2017

Captain Mithali, 39, who led the side to the 2017 final in England, recalled how the top-order helped the team reach the final.

“In 2017, when the team did well, we put up scores from 250 to 270 because at least one top-order batter played through the innings. It’s important that one of them takes the responsibility of playing through the innings. If the top-order contributes, we will be able to score 250 to 270 [in this World Cup].

“It is very rare that the middle-order or lower middle-order scores the bulk of the runs. It is important that we, as a batting unit, take responsibility of our roles,” Mithali said during a pre-departure virtual press conference from Mumbai on Sunday. 

Mithali, who has scored 7,391 runs from 220 ODIs, played her first World Cup in NZ in 2000 [when India lost to NZ by nine wickets in the semi-final] and will be playing her sixth now. She is hell bent on capitalising in her last opportunity.

‘A wonderful journey’

“It has been a wonderful journey; not an easy one. There have been ups and downs, there have been some struggles. My first World Cup was in 2000 and here I am flying to NZ for my sixth. This time, I hope India play the final and win. Winning a World Cup is special for any player and I am no different. It still drives me,” remarked Mithali, adding that she is yet to decide whether she wants to continue playing after the mega event.

Vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur, 32, is the most experienced batter [scored 2,568 runs from 107 ODIs] after Mithali. However, she has managed just one half-century in her last 27 ODIs. But the team’s head coach, former India off-spinner Ramesh Powar is not worried about Harmanpreet considering her 399 runs and 15-wicket performance for Melbourne Renegades in the Women’s Big Bash recently.

“I think it is important that you back your players. As far as Harman is concerned, she’s just came out of the Women’s Big Bash as the player of the tournament. She is in good form, it is up to her to capitalise on those good days,” Powar said.



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