Mithali Raj came into the second group game against Pakistan at the ICC Women’s World T20 with questions over her place in the batting lineup. Tanya Bhatia had opened in the first game against New Zealand with Mithali not getting an opportunity to bat despite India losing five wickets. Things changed in the second T20I, however, as she opened alongside Smriti Mandhana – chasing 134 runs.
She made the opportunity count with a 47-ball 56 run knock to steer India close to the finishing line before perishing in the seven wicket win at Guyana. She was adjudged the Man of the Match but later conceded that the 2018 edition might be her last Women’s World T20 appearance.
Mithali advocated that the team had undergone a transition and there was a need to make way for younger players. “Well, I see that representing the country is the biggest motivation and inspiration no matter how many years you spend there wearing the India colours,” said Raj after the match.
“But yes, when you also think that the team has gone through a lot of transition, and there are a lot of youngsters in the side, so at some point (thinking about) more than myself, whether I would be able to give the best or not. There are times when I think about the team, whether it is the right time to move forward, and I believe that now the team is settling, so it could probably be the last World Cup for me, the WT20 format.”
Raj and Mandhana added 73 runs for the opening wicket in the chase. She later explained why the decision to move her from the opening slot in the New Zealand could have been made and why she was brought back to open against Pakistan.
“Well, that has always been my role of an opener in the team it’s just that maybe because it was a big team we were playing the first game, and we wanted somebody in the middle order, so experience does play a role when you want to push yourself down in the middle order,” she explained about the switch.
“I think today they felt that because there are spinners in the Pakistan side, and it would be wise to open, so I opened the innings for India.”
Speaking about her knock, Mithali stated she takes things by the ball and doesn’t have a premeditated plan. “I think as an opener, I don’t think too much how to go about it, but as a batter, you would want to focus on the ball and play with instinct,” she said.
“Batting is all about instincts. You don’t plan and go there because obviously, the opponents have a different plan, and if you only want to stick to your plan, there is obviously a downfall. So as a batter, my focus is only on to watch the ball and play instinctively whether it is an aggressive shot or walking out for a single.”