Harmanpreet Kaur thinks it’s nearly impossible to fill Mithali Raj’s shoes

Harmanpreet Kaur, India’s new female ODI captain, has paid a rich tribute to the best female cricketer India has ever produced, Mithali Raj. The 39-year-old recently hung up her boots in all forms of international cricket and ended a glittering career that spanned more than two decades.

Although there are quite a few talented Indian hitters in the white ball squad for the upcoming Sri Lanka tour, Harmanpreet Kaur thinks it will be nearly impossible to replace Mithali Raj.

Harmanpreet Kaur looks on during the BCCI match

Harmanpreet Kaur doesn’t think Indian cricketer can replace Mithali Raj after retirement

Mithali Raj ended his 23-year international career with 7805 ODI runs in 232 matches, averaging just over 50. The former India skipper also scored 2364 runs in 89 T20Is, as well as 699 runs in 12 tests, including one century and four fifty.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the team’s departure for Sri Lanka, Harmanpreet Kaur said of the former India captain: “Well, we all know she has done a good job for women’s cricket and no one will be able to fill that spot. We are working on our team where we can create great combinations. But regarding Mithali Di, I don’t think that there is someone who can take her place. We will all miss her in the locker room and the things she did.

Mithali Raj – BMN/Flickr Network
Mithali Raj – BMN/Flickr Network

Harmanpreet Kaur has now taken over as India’s full-time white-ball captain as the successor to 39-year-old Mithali Raj. and his first assignment is the Sri Lanka tour. The tour includes three T20Is and as many ODIs, with the first T20I scheduled for June 23 in Dambulla.

Harmanpreet Kaur opens to play without Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami in the Sri Lankan tour

Harmanpreet Kaur’s first posting will be in Sri Lanka, where the Indian side are expected to play three T20 internationals and as many ODI matches before playing in the inaugural edition of T20 cricket at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The Indian team will not have the services of veteran bowler Jhulan Goswami for the Sri Lanka tour.

With legends like Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami not making the squad, the captain thinks this is a great opportunity for others to step in: “For us I think it’s a good tour to start because for the first time we will be playing without our senior players. Great opportunity for us to build a team. We have done a great preparation during this NCA camp and we look forward with looking forward to the Sri Lanka tour.

Archive image of Jhulan Goswami |  Andrew Couldridge/Reuters
Archive image of Jhulan Goswami | Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

India’s women’s team will also take part in the Commonwealth Games, starting July 28, and then next year’s T20 World Cup in South Africa. While Harmanpreet Kaur wants to field the strongest team possible in the T20Is, she believes the ODI squad may take some time to rebuild.

On this, she said: “In the T20s we will definitely be looking to [play] our first combination, give them as many games as possible. In the ODIs, we have some time to prepare for the next World Cup [in 2025] and that’s where we’ll see if we can give everyone a chance.

India will play the first ever T20I against Sri Lanka Women on June 23 at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium.

India women’s head coach Ramesh Powar has said BCCI and the coaches will provide an ‘update’ on Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey in due course. The duo were among the big names missing when coaches announced India’s women’s squad for the upcoming Sri Lanka tour.

Legendary pacer Jhulan Goswami (39) has played 12 Tests, 201 ODIs and 68 T20Is for Indian women and won 352 international scalps. As for 33-year-old Shikha Pandey, she took part in three Tests, 55 ODIs and 56 T20Is and claimed a total of 119 wickets across all formats.

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