Mithali Raj is just 34 runs away from becoming the highest run scorer in women’s one-day international history, but the India captain insists a win over Australia on Wednesday is the only thing on her mind.
Raj is set to overtake former England captain Charlotte Edwards on the all-time ODI run-scoring charts and is also just 41 runs shy of becoming the first woman to 6,000 ODI runs.
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But with a certain spot in the Women’s World Cup semi-finals on offer for the winner of Wednesday’s match, that’s where Raj’s focus will be firmly placed when she arrives at Bristol’s County Ground, particularly given her team's seventh-placed finish on home soil at the 2013 edition.
“Even getting into the tournament, that (record) was never my intent or purpose,” Raj said.
“As a captain and player I look for the team to do well and that we perform better than the last World Cup.
“I never really chase milestones, if you have a long career then it’s part of your career.
“I’m not looking at getting that milestone, but I am looking forward to scoring runs.
“I don’t know how much I would end up scoring in the tournament but I would want runs to flow off my bat.”
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Whether she’s concerned with milestones or not, Raj’s record in the one-day game since making her debut in 1999 is outstanding.
If she passes former Edwards' mark of 5992 runs on Wednesday, she’ll do so in 164 innings – 16 fewer than Edwards played before she retired from international cricket last year.
Raj hasn’t reached triple figures as many times as Edwards – raising the bat for five centuries compared to the Englishwomen’s nine – but she has scored 48 half-centuries, eight of those coming since February this year.
The right-hander scored two of those fifties against Australia early last year, an effort she knows she’ll likely need to replicate if she wants to upset the tournament favourites and seal India’s place in the semi-finals.
“I would say we want to play a fearless brand of cricket,” she said.
“We know now the standard of women’s cricket that 200 not a target we want to post, we are looking at 250-plus.
“You need to have the top-order getting those runs and not lower order.
“To beat Australia we have to be at our best in all departments.”
India, like Australia, were undefeated before last weekend, a run that came to an end courtesy of a 115-run thrashing at the hands of South Africa.
Raj conceded that after a strong start to the group stage which featured victories over England and West Indies, India had been less convincing in their three outings that followed, despite wins over Sri Lanka and Pakistan before the loss to the Proteas.
“We started well but we have not been consistent in the way we’d want to play in the tournament,” Raj said.
“The first two games were very good for team but we didn’t look anywhere near close to that brand of cricket against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
“But that’s a matter of a few players coming back into form and getting some runs under their belts. Our bowlers have done well in all the games India has played.”
LEADING ODI RUN-SCORERS
Charlotte Edwards (ENG) - 5,992
Mithali Raj (IND) - 5,959
Belinda Clark (AUS) - 4,844
Karen Rolton - 4,814
Sarah Taylor - 4,101
Women's World Cup Guide
Australia World Cup squad: Sarah Aley, Kristen Beams, Alex Blackwell (vc), Nicole Bolton, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Meg Lanning (c), Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington.