Batting great and India ODI captain said she is delighted for Railways after the domestic side won its 12th Senior Women's One-Day Trophy in Rajkot on Sunday. Raj led Railways to a 7-wicket win over Jharkhand in a one-sided final at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
Speaking exclusively to Sports Today on Monday, Mithali Raj said the Railways team was driven to win the title after they went without the ODI Trophy for the last 2 years. Notably, Railways had lost the semi-final of the 2018-19 season to eventual champions Bengal and the senior women's tournament was not held last year due to Covid-19 pandemic. However, Railways bounced back to win their 12th title, extending their dominance in the domestic competition. Only twice since the inception of the tournament in 2006-07 have Railways not won the title (2011-12 Railways, 2018-19 Bengal).
Mithali Raj said it was not about individuals but every member of the team, including vice-captain Sneh Rana who took over as the stand-in skipper wen Raj was away on national duty last month, contributed to the team's success. The legendary India batsman revealed how the Railways team had set some benchmarks in the lead up to the 50-over tournament and how the girls were able to achieve it during the course of the last 20 days.
"It's an incredible feat to win the One Day Domestic Championship. It's our 12th title in the last 14 years. Being title-less in the last 2 seasons, that has made the girls hungry to win a title this year," Raj told Sports Today.— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) April 4, 2021
"When we lost to Bengal in the semi-final in the 2018-19 season, as a team, we put out heads down, we worked on a few things. As a captain, along with the coach, we decided not just to pick the best XI but to pick the best 20 due to the pandemic. We also inculcated in every team member that it's not enough with just getting opportunities. We told them 'if one is presented with an opportunity, they must rise to the occasion," she added.
Shedding light on the consistent performances from Railways during the Women's ODI Trophy, Raj added: "For example, in the final, Meghna Singh, who replaced injured Arundhati, used that one opportunity in the knockout stage.
"Similarly, I can speak for Sneh Rana, the stand-in captain when I was away on national duty and the vice-captain of the team. The openers have been consistent. It's just not about individual players performing. We understand we want to have a compact unit and build a good side. That's what we worked on over the last 2 years.
"That's why I am proud of this team. This team truly understands the worth of opportunities. There is a motivation that we want to win the title. We had a good mix of seniors and young players in the squad. Overall, it was a good season for Indian Railways."
Notably, Raj had joined the team for the knockout stages of the tournament after her commitments with the senior national team. She had led India in their 5-match ODI series against South Africa in Lucknow last month.