In cricket, as in any other sport, statistics and record books do not always tell you the whole story. But every now and then, a player comes along who writes and rewrites history so often that they end up defining their era. The numbers, then, become mere evidence for what we have witnessed with our eyes: a talent that transcends the game itself.
One such name in cricket is Mithali Raj.
The day her career eventually winds down, the Indian legend, now 37 years old, will go down as one of the all-time greats of the game.
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When one considers she has played for two decades, it is a bit of a shame that Mithali will not be able to add to the 10 Tests she played for India. And considering that the advent of T20 happened in the later part of her career, Mithali’s record in the shortest format is not be scoffed at either. But there is no doubting the fact the format she has been most dominant in is the One-Day Internationals.
It was the 50-over format that introduced Mithali to international cricket back in 1999; the day she made a century on debut against Ireland in Milton Keynes.
In this article, we will take a look at the many records that India’s current ODI captain Mithali Raj holds in the format. When one takes in the enormity of her achievements listed below, there is bound to be little doubt that the Indian captain is one of the greatest batters the game has seen.
(Note: Scroll to the right or swipe across on mobile screens to view all columns of the tables below.)
An ODI colossus
There is only one place to start. During the 2017 ICC Women’s ODI World Cup, Mithali became the highest scorer and first woman to reach the 6,000-run mark in ODIs. She went past England legend Charlotte Edwards. Mithali became the highest run-getter during India’s group stage encounter against Australia in Bristol and a few deliveries later, the then 34-year-old also managed to get past the 6,000 run mark, adding another one of many firsts to her name.
Top 10 ODI run-getters
|SR Taylor||West Indies||123||4754||171||44.01||5||36|
|SW Bates||New Zealand||118||4534||168||42.77||10||27|
|DA Hockley||New Zealand||115||4064||117||41.89||4||34|
|A Satterthwaite||New Zealand||113||3821||137*||38.98||6||21|
Mithali, who became the youngest woman to play 100 ODIs when she was just 25 years old, is also the first to have played more than 200 matches in the 50-over format. That’s no surprise because she is the woman with the longest career in the history of the game, having crossed the two-decade milestone in October 2019.
In fact, only three others can boast of such a longevity, across both genders: so far Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasuriya and Javed Miandad have played ODIs over a 20-year span among men.
As of May 2020, India have played 272 ODIs in their history with Mithali featuring in 209 of them: an incredible 76.83% of the total. Starting from her ODI debut in 1999, India have played 222 matches in the format. She has been a part of all but 13 of them.
Most ODIs played
Having captained India for the first time in March 2004 against West Indies in Lucknow, Mithali has led the country for a whopping 132 matches. Once again, she is in elite company with Edwards and Belinda Clark for leading the country in more than 100 ODIs; another list that Mithali tops.
More than 100 ODIs as captain
|M Raj (IND-W)||2004-2019||132|
|CM Edwards (ENG-W)||2005-2016||117|
|BJ Clark (AUS-W)||1994-2005||101|
Back to her batting, being the leader of the country for so long, it is no surprise that Mithali has scored the most ODI runs among women as captains.
Most runs as captain
Mithali is one among the three players in the game to average more than 50 in ODIs (minimum 50 matches played). Even relaxing the criteria for number of innings batted (20), only six women in the history of the game boast of averages higher than 50 in ODIs and, of course, Mithali is one of them.
Best batting average in career
Winning or losing — Mithali delivered for India
In 2019, Mithali became the first woman to score 3,000 ODI runs in run-chases and the first to 2,000 in successful chases. While those are astounding numbers by themselves, sample this: she averages a staggering 107.15 in successful run-chases for India, the best among women who have played 20 such innings. New Zealand captain Amy Satterthwaite is not far back but she has a 105.81 average in less than half the innings as Mithali.
Best average in successful run-chases
|M Raj||52||2036||107.15||16 (1)|
|AE Satterthwaite||24||1164||105.81||7 (3)|
|KL Rolton||36||1319||87.93||7 (3)|
|SW Bates||27||1403||87.68||12 (3)|
|EA Perry||24||863||78.45||9 (0)|
Another statistic that signifies just how important to India’s cause in ODIs has Mithali been: she has remained unbeaten 33 times in successful run-chases, comfortably the most in world cricket.
Simply put, no one else took the women in blue past the finish line as well and as many times as Mithali did.
Most Not Outs in successful run-chases
|Player||Inns batted||Not outs|
For much of the 2000s, India were so often heavily dependent on Mithali to score the runs that she tops the chart for being most prolific in losing causes as well.
Most runs scored in losing causes in ODIs
Scoring big hundreds was not exactly commonplace in the women’s game for most part of her career. In the list of best individual ODI scores of all time, seven out of the top 10 have been scored since 2010. Mithali’s highest score in 125* (her seventh and most recent century that came against Sri Lanka in 2018) and that is possibly one of the few record lists that she will end up not topping when she brings the curtains down on her career.
Australia captain Meg Lanning, who could potentially own some of the records that Mithali set over her career in the long run, leads the way with the most centuries (13) in the 50-over format. The Indian veteran could still reach double figures for the triple-figure mark but the record is likely out of her reach at this point.
It is also worth noting that she jointly owns the record with Suzie Bates for the most 90s in ODIs (5 each) and four of them were unbeaten knocks; that’s a few centuries missed out right there.
Most centuries in ODIs
|SC Taylor (ENG-W)||120||156*||8|
|SJ Taylor (ENG-W)||119||147||7|
Even if she is not the most prolific with scoring centuries, the Indian superstar proved to the world that she was the real deal right from the word go.
She made her debut in 1999 at 16 years 205 days, on India’s tour of Ireland and England. Opening the innings, she became the youngest female player to make a century and that is a record still stands. She is among a group of just five women to have scored a century on ODI debut.
Incredibly so, she is also the only woman to have scored a century as a teenager and at age 35 years or more.
Youngest women to score a 100 in ODIs
|M Raj||16y 205d||114*||v Ire Women||Milton Keynes||26 Jun 1999|
|L Wolvaardt||17y 105d||105||v Ire Women||Dublin (Malahide)||9 Aug 2016|
|CM Edwards||17y 243d||102||v SA Women||Taunton||17 Aug 1997|
|AC Kerr||17y 243d||232*||v Ire Women||Dublin||13 Jun 2018|
|SJ Taylor||17y 285d||101||v AUS Women||Chennai||1 Mar 2007|
Oldest women to score a 100 in ODIs
|BL Bevege||39y 48d||101||v Int XI Women||Auckland||12 Jan 1982|
|JA Brittin||38y 161d||138||v PAK Women||Vijayawada||12 Dec 1997|
|M Terblanche||37y 289d||114*||v Neth Women||Utrecht||4 Aug 2007|
|DA Hockley||37y 91d||100||v AUS Women||Melbourne||6 Feb 2000|
|M Raj||35y 287d||125*||v SL Women||Katunayake||16 Sep 2018|
|L Olivier||35y 243d||101*||v Ire Women||Christchurch||16 Dec 2000|
When it comes to scoring half centuries, Mithali has a comfortable lead. She overtook Edwards in April 2018 for the most 50-plus scores in the 50-over format and is unlikely to caught in this race anytime soon with Stafanie Taylor in third place (41).
Most fifty-plus scores in ODIs
Mithali also holds the record for registering the most number of consecutive 50-plus scores.
Mithali Raj's record 7 fifties on the trot
|70*||v SL Women||Colombo (PSS)||7 Feb 2017|
|64||v SA Women||Colombo (PSS)||15 Feb 2017|
|73*||v Bdesh Wmn||Colombo (NCC)||17 Feb 2017|
|51*||v SA Women||Potchefstroom (Uni)||9 May 2017|
|54||v SA Women||Potchefstroom||17 May 2017|
|62*||v SA Women||Potchefstroom||21 May 2017|
|71||v ENG Women||Derby||24 Jun 2017|
And finally, perhaps the statistic that conveys best how much of a battle it has been for most of Mithali Raj’s India career. On many a occasion, Mithali has been a sole warrior in India’s cause, even if it does not happen often in the recent past. It is no surprise, then, among women scoring more than 50% of the team’s total in a completed innings, Mithali features the most often.
Scoring 50% or more of the team's totals
|Player||Team||Scoring 50% or more team's total|
|Chamari Atapattu||Sri Lanka||4|
|Stafanie Taylor||West Indies||3|
Mithali Raj scoring 50% or more of India's runs
|Score||Team total||% of score||Inns of match||Opponent||Venue||Date|
|74||129||57.36||2||v AUS Women||Sydney||1 Nov 2008|
|75*||137/7||54.74||1||v SL Women||Sydney||12 Mar 2009|
|92*||173/5||53.17||1||v ENG Women||Taunton||5 Jul 2012|
|53*||102||51.96||1||v ENG Women||Taunton||1 Sep 2008|
|91*||180||50.55||2||v ENG Women||Bengaluru||21 Feb 2010|
|109*||216/4||50.46||1||v WI Women||Rajkot||18 Jan 2011|
When it comes to World Cups, Mithali has played 31 matches which is the joint third-most. She is the only active player to have scored more than 1,000 runs at the marquee event. With 1139 runs at an average of 54.23 (two 100s and nine 50s), Mithali is fifth on the list of top run-getters in World Cup.
Having captained India in both the 2005 and 2017 World Cup finals, Mithali is one among the three women to have led their country in the final of a World Cup more than once.
Come 2021, Mithali Raj would hope to add another feather to her cap. Another shot at a World Cup title that has eluded her would be the icing on a cake for what has already been a phenomenal ODI career.