I want the 2021 World Cup to be my swan song, says Mithali Raj

HYDERABAD: The announcement was in the letters and it doesn't surprise those who have been following women's cricket in the country. Mithali Raj The withdrawal of T20 Internationals on Tuesday, in fact, has brought the closing of a rather bitter last few months of his career in the shortest version of the game.

Mithali's future in the T20I had been under the scanner since it was controversially excluded from the XI by the World T20 semifinals against England last year. The controversy ended after Powar was fired and WV Raman He entered as the new coach of the team. But bad blood meant that Mithali was no longer welcome in the T20I squad.

Therefore, Hyderabadi's 36-year decision to focus on ODI not only clarifies his priorities, but also gives the selectors less headache while preparing the team for the next T20 World Cup .

Mithali, who has an impressive track record in the T20I, spoke with ToI on Tuesday night. Mithali wants the 2021 World Cup to be his swan song and is looking to do it right.

Excerpts

Was retirement a sudden decision?

I had already discussed the issue and also shared it with the coach and selector during the New Zealand tour in January this year. Even before we got into the T20I series against England, I had spoken to them as I could see that I wouldn't be figuring in the next T20 World Cup . I couldn't see myself playing in that tournament and so I thought, as there is one year to go, I should give the coach time so that he can prepare the team accordingly. I didn't want to keep the decision pending till the last moment as it won't be appropriate on my part to announce the retirement later. That's why I kept them in the loop during the New Zealand tour. That's also the reason that I didn't play the first two games so as to let the youngsters get a feel of the alien conditions there.

During that time there were also a couple of articles in which the local series against England will be the last. That was really true. They also suggested that I should play my last game at home. That's why I made the decision to play the follow-up series against England in March. The game in Guwahati was the last.

Looking back on the T20I race, how do you feel?

I would say it was decent. There were some really high points in that by scoring three 50 at the 2014 World Cup in Bangladesh, where I scored many races in that tournament. The T20I series won in Australia in 2015 and also the highlight was to open the tickets. 2014 was when I first opened the tickets for India.



Low points of T20Is ...

Well, as captain, the lowest point is definitely the 2016 World Cup where we play at home and do not qualify and play the final. Otherwise, it has been a gradual progress that we have made as a team and player.

How was it when you led India in its first T20I game against England in 2006?

Well, I can only say that everything was very new to us. Twenty overs was very short, since it ends in the blink of an eye. Everything was so new and we were playing for the first time that we didn't know how to do it, what to plan to do, etc. Any new concept requires time to understand, discover and what is best, etc. I didn't really have any plans and I just checked a few things and everything clicked for us when we won that game (for eight wickets).

Looking to the future...

I am planning for the ODI World Cup as there is a year-and-a-half more to go. We have enough time to prepare for it as I am one of those players who invests a lot of time in preparation. I want the 2021 World Cup to be my swansong. That is something that I am looking at and am working towards it. After the T20 World Cup finishes, every board will start preparing for the ODI World Cup so that period will be a very busy one. That's why this is the time to get my preparations going.

Post retirement ...

As of now I don't want to think about that part.

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