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Hyderabad: Beginning her cricket journey as an eight-year-old from the lanes of Secunderabad to becoming one of the stalwarts in world cricket, Mithali’s career spanning close to 23 years has been an incredible one.

At 39, Mithali leaves the game as one of the greatest, with numerous records under her belt. The coaches and people who know her journey attribute the longevity of her career to her grit and determination. Having started coaching under Jyothi Prasad as a kid and then under late Sampath Kumar, she joined Railways in 2000.

RSR Murthy, her coach at the Railways, says the cricketer wanted to leave the game on her own terms and said that she is quitting on a high. “She had such an illustrious career; she achieved everything in terms of longevity, number of runs she scored, the consistency she showed. The only missing thing is winning a World Cup. She felt the next World Cup is too far and thought it was the right time to quit. Though it is tough to digest, we have to respect her decision,” Murthy said.

He also lauded Mithali saying that her work ethics keeps her apart from the rest. “She never compromised on her work. Even if it rained, she would be there in the ground. Her preparation for the game is unimaginable. Her consistency, grit and determination put her above the rest. Consistency is the hallmark of her career. Maintaining 50 plus average after 200 ODIs also is unbelievable. She is leaving the game on a high.”

Mithali put India on global map: Purnima Rau

Meanwhile, the former Indian women’s captain and coach Purnima Rau lauded her saying that she put India on the global map. “Her foundation has been very good. Her basics, work ethics, skill sets and attitude towards the game were excellent. It is not easy to play for 23 years and stay on top. She has done everything in the game. I am proud that she is from Hyderabad,” said Purnima.

She attributed the longevity of her career to her grit. “She is cut above the rest. No doubt about it. She had an amazing career. She put India on the global map. She was No.1 or 2 in rankings constantly with her performance. She had a very admirable career. Her work ethics are admirable,” she added.

Meanwhile, rich tributes kept pouring in from Hyderabad cricketers. Former Hyderabad Ranji captain P Akshath Reddy said, “She was an extraordinary cricketer who had inspired a lot of women cricketers. Her commitment towards the game is exceptional. The standard and quality of the game she had, she has taken women’s cricket to another level. I am sure she will be contributing a lot in the future towards the game as well.”

Hyderabad all-rounder T Ravi Teja said, “She has always been a legend of the game and as a kid watching her bat at John Manoj’s camp against senior men fast bowlers effortlessly in the nets was just amazing. Be it for men or women cricket, she has always been an inspiration for all the athletes throughout the cricketing world. She’ll always be remembered as the goddess of women cricket similar to the god Sachin Tendulkar.”

Hyderabad woman cricketer Pranavi Chandra added, “What she’s done for the sport and how she has been the backbone of women’s cricket in India cannot be described in words. On the one hand, I am disappointed that I won’t be able to play alongside her in the Indian colors when the opportunity comes, but I am extremely happy for how far she has come in life. I want to thank her for inspiring numerous young girls like me from all over the world.”

John Manoj, the founder of St John’s Cricket Academy, where Mithali used to train when she was in city, said, “Mithali started training here. But since we didn’t have women cricketers, she moved to Keyes High School where Sampath sir used to train cricketers there. Her records speak volumes about her game. She is the most consistent player. She is also a great ambassador for the country. Even before retiring, she was in fine form. She is the women’s Sachin Tendulkar. She holds all the records. I feel it is the right time to take the decision, ahead of Sri Lanka tour.”

The former HCA official hoped that she would be in touch with the game after retirement as well. “I feel she can keep contributing to Indian women’s cricket. Having played the game for so long, she can definitely a great source for BCCI,” he added.


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Author: Howard Caldwell