Mithali Raj announces retirement from T20Is to prepare for 2021 World Cuphttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/mithali-raj-retirement-t20i-5961791/

Mithali Raj announces retirement from T20Is to prepare for 2021 World Cup

Mithali Raj announced retirement from the shortest format of the game on Tuesday, saying she wants to now focus on ODI World Cup in 2021.

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Mithali Rajwho led India to the final of the 2017 edition, had earlier said that the tournament that took place in England in June-July earlier this year would be her last. (Source: PTI)

Former captain Mithali Raj announced her retirement from the shortest format of the game Tuesday after having led the Indian women’s cricket team in 32 T20I matches including three World Cups in 2012 (Sri Lanka), 2014 (Bangladesh) and 2016 (India).

Mithali led the India women’s team in the first-ever T20I played in Derby back in 2006. Since that win against the England Women, Mithali played another 88 games in which she scored 2,364 runs, the most by an Indian woman in T20Is. Mithali is also the first Indian to reach the landmark of 2,000 T20I runs.

Thanking BCCI for the support, Mithali said that she wanted to shift her focus to the 2021 ODI World Cup.

“After representing India in T20 internationals since 2006, I wish to retire from T20Is to focus my energies on readying myself for the 2021 One Day World Cup. It remains my dream to win a World Cup for my country and I want to give it my best,” she said.

“I thank the BCCI for their continuous support and wish the Indian T20 team good luck as they prepare for the home series against South Africa Women,” Raj said.

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Mithali was left out of the World Cup semi-final against England in November 2018, which was followed by India getting knocked out of the tournament. Reports emerged of a rift between Raj, and current T20I skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and then-coach Ramesh Powar.

Powar in his report to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and General Manager of Cricket Operations Saba Karim, had accused Raj of “blackmailing” and “pressurising coaches”. In the 10-page report written to the BCCI officials, the head coach of accused her of not playing for the team and chasing after “own milestones”.

Mithali had responded to the allegations saying it was the ‘darkest day of her life.’

“I’m deeply saddened and hurt by the aspersions cast on me. My commitment to the game and 20 years of playing for my country. The hard work, sweat, in vain. Today, my patriotism doubted, my skill set questioned & all the mud slinging- it’s the darkest day of my life. May god give strength,” she had tweeted.

The former skipper was excluded from the team next T20 International against New Zealand in Wellington in February. Raj played her last T20I against England on March 9, 2019 and scored an unbeaten 30 off 32 balls.