Senior woman cricketer Mithali Raj announced her retirement from T20 Internationals on Tuesday. The 36-year-old led India in 32 T20I matches, including the three editions of the Women's WT20 in 2012, 2014 and 2016. "After representing India in T20 internationals since 2006, I wish to retire from T20Is to focus my energies on readying myself for the 2021 One Day World Cup. It remains my dream to win a World Cup for my country and I want to give it my best," Mithali Raj said in a statement released by the BCCI. "I thank the BCCI for their continuous support and wish the Indian T20 team good luck as they prepare for the home series against South Africa Women," said Mithali Raj.
Mithali Raj was also the captain in India women's first-ever T20I played in Derby in 2006. Since that win against England, Mithali Raj played another 88 games, in which she scored 2364 runs, the most by an Indian woman in T20Is.
Mithali Raj is also the first Indian to reach the landmark of 2000 T20I runs.
India women are scheduled to play a five-match T20I home series against South Africa, starting on September 24. Later in February-March 2020, the T20 World Cup will be played in Australia.
The 36-year-old, who is the ODI captain and remains committed to play the 50-over World Cup in 2021, is not an automatic pick in the T20 eleven.
The selectors are scheduled to meet in Mumbai on September 5 to pick the squad for the first three T20 Internationals. The series in Surat will be followed by three ODIs in Baroda.
While India are doing decent in ODIs, they need a lot of improvement in T20s, having lost their previous six games. The team doesn't have much time left to sort out its combinations.
After the South Africa series, India travel to the West Indies before playing a tri-series in Australia ahead of the T20 World Cup. Mithali Raj acknowledged the issues facing the team in T20 cricket.
"As a team, we still have a lot to catch up on the T20 format but we do have youngsters coming in and with the exposure of T20 leagues around the world they will get more experience and mature faster," she said.
(With PTI inputs)