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Friday, March 12, 2021

Mithali Raj makes 10000 International runs .. well played !!

I vividly remember seeing that Test no. 1071 at Ahmedabad (same stadium) – 34 years ago .. .. Pak  395 & 135/2 drew with India 323.   As the test which Sunil Gavaskar and Ijaz Faqih would remember meandered into a draw, Kapil Dev, Mohinder Amarnath, Maninder Singh, Gopal Sharma,  Shivlal Yadav, Ravi Shastri, Krish Srikkanth & Sunil Gavaskar bowled [Azharuddin, Vengsarkar & Kiran More did not bowl] .. .. that Test was of historic significance !!

The focus shifted from Tests to T20I today .. .. and India clearly erred in playing 3 spinners.  England captain Eoin Morgan opted to chase,  citing the dew factor. His opposite number Virat Kohli was wary of the dew, too, which made chasing easier at this venue in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy - India's domestic T20 tournament - in January. While England picked just one spinner in Adil Rashid, India packed their attack with three - legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal and fingerspin-bowling allrounders Washington Sundar and Axar Patel. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar returned for his first international since December 2019. Shardul Thakur was selected as the second seamer ahead of Deepak Chahar and Navdeep Saini. England chose the rapid pace of Mark Wood,  restricted India to 124/7 and chased the total with ridiculous ease in 15.3 overs losing just 2 wickets !!

Elsewhere in Abu Dhabi – Zimbabwe were forced to follow-on after making 287 in reply to Afghanistan’s 545/4 decl.   Hashmatullah Shahidi (200*) became the first Afghanistan player to score a double-century in Test cricket. Asghar Afghan briefly held the record for the highest individual score for Afghanistan with his 164 before Shahidi overtook him. Before Thursday, Rahmat Shah's 102 against Bangladesh in the 2019 Chattogram was Afghanistan's only hundred in their first five Tests.

Back home, Lizelle Lee described her match-winning 132* as "one of the best innings I've played", but credited South Africa's bowlers for setting up the win that gave them a 2-1 lead in the five-match series in India. South Africa won by six runs in a DLS-determined finish because of rain, and it was due in large measure to India scoring only 55 in the last ten overs and 27 in the last five, as Shabnim Ismail, Ayabonga Khaka, Tumi Sekhukhune and Marizanne Kapp kept things tight.

The mercurial Mithali Raj  rose to Himalayan heights, becoming the  first Indian batter, and only the second overall, to score 10,000 runs in women's international cricket. Raj went past the mark during her innings of 36 in the third ODI against South Africa this day, getting there with a flicked boundary off the bowling of Anne Bosch.  Mithali was  dismissed off the next ball, which means she will have to wait a little longer to reach another major milestone - she is now 26 runs away from becoming the first batter to 7000 runs in women's ODIs. England's Charlotte Edwards, who ended her career with 5992 ODI runs, is a distant second on that list. Charlotte Edwards, Mithali Raj, Suzie Bates, Stafanie Taylor and Meg Lanning are the top five run-getters in women's cricket.  Charlotte Edwards, incidentally,  has  made 10,273 runs overall, in a career that stretched from 1996 to 2016.

Raj has enjoyed  longer career. She made her India debut back in June 1999, in an ODI in Lucknow against England, and has so far played 10 Tests, 212 ODIs and 89 T20Is. She now has 663 Test runs at an average of 51.00, 6974 ODI runs at 50.53, and 2364 T20I runs at 37.52.  Speaking to the media ahead of the third ODI, India opener Smriti Mandhana had reflected on the significance of Raj reaching the milestone. "Getting to 10,000 runs first or second is a huge thing," Mandhana said. "She is the first Indian to do that, so I think it is something that shows how consistent she has been throughout her career. We have looked up to her, definitely a very proud feeling for all of us in the team."

In that Ahmedabad test on 7.3.1987 – little master Sunil Gavaskar nudged Ijah Faqih moving from 57 to 58 .. .. and that single run at Motera lifted Gavaskar to a territory where none had ever ventured before – that was the first time a batsman had scored 10000 runs in Test Cricket.   Ijah Faqih who ended up playing only 5 tests was the Man of the match in that drawn match.

Statistically -  Sachin Tendulkar  stands at the top with 15921 test runs; Ricky Ponting 13378; Kallis 13289; Rahul Dravid 13288; Alistair Cook 12472; Kumara Sangakkara 12400; Brian Lara 11953l; Shivnaraine Chanderpaul 11867; Mahela Jayawardene 11814; Alan Border 11174; Steve Waugh 10927; Sunil Gavaskar 10122 & Younis Khan 10099 are in that 10000  Test runs club.

To add more statistics – here are the highest aggregate International runs – the 20000 men’s club – again headed by Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar 34357; Kumara Sangakkara 28016; Ricky Ponting 27483; Mahela Jayawardene 25957; Jacques Kallis 25534, Rahul Dravid 24208; Virat Kohli 22458; Brian Lara 22358; Sanath Jayasuriya 21032; Shivnaraine Chanderpaul 20988; Inzamam ul-Haq 20580 & AB de Villiers 20014.

Interesting !  .. .. well played Mithali Raj !! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar



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