How Mithali Raj used book reading to calm her nerves before her big moment

Mithali finished with most runs in women's international cricket, most women's ODIs as captain, longest ODI career for anyone, youngest to score a double hundred in women's Tests and most fifties in women's ODIs.

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Mithali Raj batting during the 2017 World Cup match against England. (Courtesy: Reuters)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Mithali has announced her retirement from all forms of cricket
  • Mithali's cricketing career spanned from 1999 to 2022
  • Mithali's last outing in India colours was the 2022 World Cup

Mithali Raj is an avid book reader. Wherever the Indian team travelled, a book used to make its way in her suitcase without fail. The habit of reading was always there, but it caught the attention of fans for the first time during the 2017 Women's World Cup in the UK.

The 39-year-old former skipper was seen calmly reading a book while waiting for her turn to bat in the opening match against England. The habit inculcated over the years used to calm jitters before her big moment.

A picture in which she was seen sitting in the dugout, immersed in a book with pads on while waiting for her chance to bat went viral immediately, attracting admiration on social media. India won the match by 35 runs and Mithali became the first woman to score seven consecutive half-centuries in ODI cricket.

Asked about her book reading, Mithali had said, "Since Kindle is not allowed, so I had to borrow books from the fielding coach and he gave me this book by Rumi on life’s essentials (sic) (titled: The Essential), so I was just reading that.

"I am into reading a lot; even before getting into batting I am always with Kindle or books because it calms me down as well as and I don’t get those jitters (ahead of) just getting into batting," she revealed during the 2017 showpiece event.

The book reading was back again when India took on West Indies in their second match. Five years later, in the 2022 World Cup, Mithali, who led India for the last time in a global event, was seen reading while once again waiting for her chance against England in a league match.

Mithali announced her retirement from all forms of cricket after a glittering career spanning from 1999 to 2022. She finished with most runs in women's international cricket, most women's ODIs as captain, longest ODI career for anyone, youngest to score a double hundred in women's Tests and most fifties in women's ODIs.