On this day in 2002: Mithali Raj registers the then highest score in Women’s Tests

Over the last few years, Women’s cricket in India has walked a long path. It is getting recognition and coverage now, but the progress of the sport has been steadied and led by some of the greats of the game. Think of these women cricketers and you won’t miss out on the name of Mithali Raj. Her repertoire is shining even now but the spark was spotted years back.

A nineteen-year-old Mithali batted for 10 hours and scripted history in a drawn match in Taunton on this day. She scored a record-breaking 214, the then highest score in an innings by a woman in Test matches. She went past Karen Rolton’s record of 209 which was set in the previous year. Her innings put India in a strengthened position with a day remaining against England.

Monumental, Magical, Mithali

Mithali Raj’s innings was a splendid one not just because of the resilience the youngster exuded but also the belief that she instilled in the team. It probably hinted to the world that she was all set to take the centre stage of women’s cricket and leave a legacy behind her. Until then Mithali had a good start to her career but emerging as a promising player in red-ball cricket was something different and she did it with her distinct style and poise. Immense temperament coupled with solid technique is how one could probably narrate the story of her innings.

England Women had scored 329 in their first innings. When Mithali came into bat, the Indian team was reduced to 45-2. Mithali Raj then first stood firm with skipper Anjum Chopra (52) who eventually lost her wicket to Kathryn Leng. Later, she continued her overnight partnership with Hemlata Kala (62) who had to walk back to the hut owing to a run-out.

After losing Deepa Marathe (8) and wicket-keeper Sulakshana Naik (16), Jhulan Goswami remained intact on one end. Mithali brought up her double century on the third day of the Test match as she finished the day on 210 not out. The following day, on August 17, she reached the record figure of 214 before debutant Isa Guha scalped her prized wicket. India thus put 467 onboard and took a lead of 138 runs. England then were 198-6 in their second innings, when the two captains settled for a draw.

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