Mithali Raj has retired from T20I cricket in a bid to be at her best at the 2021 ODI World Cup, saying while announcing her decision on Tuesday that she wanted to focus on fulfilling her “dream” of winning the 50-over title.
“After representing India in T20 internationals since 2006, I wish to retire from T20Is to focus my energies on readying myself for the 2021 one-day World Cup,” she said in a BCCI press statement. “It remains my dream to win a World Cup for my country and I want to give it my best.
“I thank the BCCI for their continuous support and wish the Indian T20 team good luck as they prepare for the home series against South Africa Women.”
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Raj had captained India in 32 T20Is, including those at the World Cups in 2012, 2014 and 2016. The 36-year-old batsman ended her career as India’s top-scorer in the format with 2364 runs at an average of 37.5 and a highest score of 97 not out.
Last week she told PTI that she “was definitely available” to play the upcoming T20Is against South Africa, but there were question marks over whether India still needed her.
Raj was at the centre of a great deal of controversy at the last T20I World Cup, where she claimed she was unfairly excluded from the XI for the semi-final, which India lost. The head coach at the time, Ramesh Powar, had said that she had gone as far as to threaten retirement if she wasn’t allowed to open the innings.
Things, however, did calm down with time and Raj was picked for each of India’s last two T20I series, against New Zealand and England. But there was increased focus on her role with the team looking to groom players for the next World Cup in February 2020.