Indian woman cricketer fights for honor after outshining Kohli with bat in T20

S. N. M. Abdi
S. N. M. Abdi
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Which Indian cricketer has scored the highest number of runs in the T 20 format?

The answer will stump most cricket buffs. It’s not Virat Kohli – the reigning superstar of Indian cricket and a household name in countries around the world where cricket is played – or any of Kohli’s boys in blue.

The highest number of T 20 runs for India has come not from a man’s bat from a woman’s! Mithali Raj is today India’s No 1 T 20 scorer beating run machines like Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina hands down.

To be sure, Mithali is a star in all three formats – Test, One Day International and the increasingly popular T 20 in which she has outshone the big boys of Indian cricket with the bat which until recently did all the talking for her.

Hrithik Roshan, Bollywood hunk, was among the first to congratulate Mithali for “shattering the glass ceiling” no sooner she stole a march over the poster boys of the game who have as many followers as movie stars in the film and cricket crazy nation of 1.3 billion people.

Indian women’s cricket is grabbing eyeballs as never before after the Mithali-led team made it to the final of the World Cup in England last year. Its soaring popularity is reflected in the electronic, print and social media.

Social media slugfest

The slugfest in social media after Mithali was axed in the just-concluded World T 20 tournament in the West Indies underlines not only the sidelined star’s mass appeal but the rising stock of women’s cricket in India. The first book on the subject, Free Hit: The Story of Women’s Cricket in India, written by former NDTV journalist Suprita Das, has just been launched in Calcutta – cricket’s bastion.

Mithali’s 2000-word long leaked email to the cricket board nailing her tormentors and the blowback testify to her standing in the male-dominated sport. The 35-year-old belongs to a conservative Tamil family which wanted her to be a dancer but she chose to be a cricketer making her debut at 16.

The current media coverage of her no-holds-barred battle with the establishment – with sports editors of top newspapers either gunning for her or espousing Mithali's cause - is Indian women’s cricket’s coming of age moment.

Sriram Veera wrote in The Indian Express that media fretting about a player’s absence and fans on social media oohing-and- aahing point out how far women’s cricket has grown.

“No longer is it being solely viewed through a gender prism but their game has grown to a point where it’s being discussed seriously. Where fans feel disappointment and anger. Where we are moved into serious analysis.” Mithali, in that sense, is at par with the boys after beating them at their own game.

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