Mithali Raj calls Kapil Dev his role model and reserves special praise for Sachin Tendulkar

Mithali Raj, the former captain of India’s Women’s ODI & Test team who recently announced her retirement, has divulged details about what made her opt for cricket as a career option. Mithali, in an exclusive interview with Republic Media Network, recounted her early life as an aspiring cricketer and how she always held 1983 World Cup winner Captain Kapil Dev in high regard. Speaking of role models, Indian cricketing superstar Sachin Tendulkar couldn’t miss out on the list, and that’s no different for India’s women’s cricket torchbearer. Interestingly, Mithali is also affectionately known as “Lady Sachin” by her fans.

Mithali Raj calls Kapil Dev her role model

Reminiscing about when she started her cricketing career, Mithali spoke at length, saying she always idolized legend Kapil Dev, calling him her role model. Further emphasizing how she was inspired to play cricket, she admitted to admiring the great Sachin Tendulkar for his manners on and off the pitch.

“My role model when I started was Kapil Dev. I also started admiring Sachin Tendulkar, the way he behaved on the pitch, the way he prepared before every game,” Mithali explained.

‘Girls are now making cricket a career, not a hobby like I did’: Mithali

Moreover, weighing in on the recognition of women’s cricket in the country, Mithali said, “I would say when I started playing cricket, women’s cricket was not very popular. Not many people knew about the existence of India women’s cricket team in our country in the 1990s and I started playing in an academy which was a camp for boys only. I was the only girl around, and from there to now where every academy enrolls at least 50-60 girls every month, that’s a huge change. I think the sport has come a long way for young girls to have female cricketers as role models now. You see a lot of girls getting into sports, and they don’t take it as a hobby like I did.”

She also reflected on the ‘huge change’ within the sport, in terms of how young girls have embraced cricket as a viable career option with the BCCI monitoring it. “Over the last few years we’ve seen the initiative to hold a Challenger Trophy, and I’m sure we’ll have our women’s IPL soon. Considering all of these things throughout my journey, I’d say it’s been very satisfying to see a sport and cricketers in obscurity at a time when cricketers are as scarred as they are,” Mithali said.

Image: Republic World

Rebecca R. Santistevan