Mithali Raj, the captain of the Indian ODI team on Saturday revealed that the 50-over World Cup next year in New Zealand is going to be her “swansong”. Arguably the best in the business, Mithali has an illustrious international career of 23 years.

However, the captain is looking for some good seam bowling options for the upcoming mega event as the New Zealand track will offer seam.

“It’s been 21 years of international cricket and I know 2022 is my swansong, The World Cup,” Mithali Raj said during the virtual launch of the book ‘1971: The Beginning of India’s Cricketing Greatness’, published by Harper Collins and co-authored by Boria Majumdar and Gautam Bhattacharya. “The last year is equal to the 20 years of my international cricket.”

Notably, Mithali Raj is the only player to have scored more than 7000 ODI runs. She also opened up how she had to keep herself motivated during the crunch time of COVID-19 which has brought the world to a standstill. Due to that, many sporting events have been postponed which also included the Women’s World Cup. It has pushed back by one year as well.

“I know we are in difficult times but it takes a lot out of me to keep working on my fitness. I am not getting any younger, in fact I am getting older and I know the importance of fitness,” she again added. “The importance of being in a very good emotional and mental set-up, knowing that there will be very few tours before the World Cup.”

The team India will play four bilateral series — against England, Australia and New Zealand and a home series against West Indies as well. 

“Every tour (from now on) is important for me as a batter as to how I am going to get the team to regroup and build a team for the World Cup,” she said.

“Yeah, I am very optimistic looking at the girls and in the manner they have been working with whatever facilities they have in these times and focus and enthusiasm that a series is coming up. She admitted that fast bowling is one area that the team needs to improve upon and build a pool looking at the future as Jhulan Goswami also hits the business end of her career. We definitely need to look at a few players and prepare them for New Zealand, so yeah,” again added the captain.

On the other hand, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has also given advice to the team. It is also noteworthy that, Gavaskar was also a co-panellist during the discussion. He felt that Mithali Raj and co. could take the approach of Virat Kohli – the way he looks at the opponent’s eyes and give a tough fight without getting intimidated.

“I was with my wife at Lord’s watching the 2017 Women ODI World Cup final. What I saw was that English girls came hard at your lower order and intimidated them with their attitude. I would want the girls to glare back at the opposition instead of looking down. I feel body language is a very important aspect. Look at Virat Kohli, he stares at opposition and the rest of the team does that,” Gavaskar said.

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