Mithali Raj: 5 reasons why ignoring her for Khel Ratna is BLACK DAY of Indian sports! [OPINION]

Mithali Raj already happens to be an Arjuna Award winner and has also bagged the highly-honourable Padma Shri

The 34-year-old Mithali Raj, who is the captain of the India Women’s Cricket team, has been playing cricket for 18 years and counting. Something that is not heard of in the women’s game. She was recently ignored for the Khel Ratna honour and that is what is exactly raising eyebrows. The Jodhpur girl had debuted for the nation way back in 1999 and is still going strong. She recently led the Indian eves to the finals of the recently concluded Women’s World Cup. So why is the blue-eyed girl Raj being denied the Khel Ratna? People from all across are already criticising the move.

Here are 5 reasons why feel denying her the Khel Ratna is purely a BLACK DAY of Indian cricket.

18+ years at the pinnacle of the game: Yes, she has played the game of cricket for 18 long years! She happens to be the only player to have played in both the previous centuries and the present. You can never count out the years she has given to the nation, bringing glory with her bat. She is quite possibly the most renowned female cricketer in the country. Mithali Raj has inspired umpteen youngsters to take up the sport. She has also been an example of female empowerment in our country.

Top of the tree: She has scored the most number of One Day International runs, pipping England’s Charlotte Edwards, in this recently concluded world cup itself. These are some astounding figures that can’t be brushed under the carpet. Hence, we were surprised when her name was not recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. Mithali powered the team to two Cup finals (in 2005 and 2017), and was on the cusp of creating a world record at the time of the deadline to send in the nominations.

Young starter & epitomises fitness: At merely 16 years & 205 days, Mithali was still the youngest to score a hundred in women’s ODIs and the record still holds.  Mithali also played 109 consecutive matches between 2004 and 2013 – the longest streak for any player in women’s ODIs. To top that, she also played 74 consecutive innings between 2000 and 2007 without scoring a duck – the longest streak for any player at that time (since broken by Australia’s Karen Rolton). She was also the youngest cricketer from India to have made captain at the age of 21.

Current form: She has had a phenomenal 2017, where she participated in 18 matches, amassing 783 runs at an average of 71.1, which is staggering. This also included a century in the world cup and 9 fifties. If the current form is taken into consideration, she is right up at the peak. Now, how can you not consider her for the coveted honour? Some people at the top brass really need to do some explaining.

Awards and honour: She has won 18 Woman of the Match awards – the second most in women’s ODIs after the West Indies’ Stafanie Taylor (20). Among Indians, no one has even crossed six! She already happens to be an Arjuna Award winner and has also bagged the highly-honourable Padma Shri, which is India’s fourth highest civilian award. Still defying her the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna is unfortunate.

It is surprising that she was not included because she is a current cricketer and the two cricketers who have been nominated in this category, are Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Tendulkar is done with playing cricket and MS Dhoni is in the twilight of his career, hence the decision to omit Mithali is even more shocking.