Sleepless in West Indies, Mithali Raj forced into T20 retirement
Sources tell mid-day that ex-captain, who is also India's highest run-getter in format, won't play T20s anymore
Senior pro Mithali Raj's controversial omission from the playing XI of the ICC Women's World T20 semi- final against England has become a talking point after India's eight- wicket defeat that ended their campaign at Antigua on Thursday. mid- day has learnt that Raj is being forced to contemplate retirement from T20 cricket, the format in which she is India's highest run- getter.
A source privy to developments in the team management, said that Raj was subjected to uncertainty over her batting position from Match One of the World T20 tournament. "She struggled to sleep peacefully throughout the tournament because there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding her place in the team. There was no clarity over her role in the team and her batting position. She was told about her omission from the semi-final after the warm-up session on match day," the source told mid-day.
In the opening clash of the tournament, Raj was demoted to No. 8 in the batting order against New Zealand and did not get a chance to bat in that match. In the second and third games [against Pakistan and Ireland respectively], the veteran batswoman returned to her opening slot and ended up scoring consecutive half centuries to bag the Player of the Match award in both matches. A knee injury prevented her from participating in the inconsequential group match against Australia. In the crucial semi-final clash, skipper Harmanpreet Kaur decided to stick with a "winning combination" and dropped a fit-again Raj. The gamble did not pay off as India crashed out of the tournament after remaining unbeaten in the group stage.
Soon after her knock against Pakistan, Raj indicated that this would be her last T20 World Cup. However, the source said that retiring from T20s was never on her mind. "Before going to the T20 World Cup, she had not thought about giving up on the shortest format. She was keen to play a little more before retiring from it. Probably, the harsh treatment meted to her has forced her to think of quitting [from T20s]," the source said. Raj is perceived as " too slow" for T20s. The runs though, have not dried up for her.
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