Book Excerpt: Read How Mithali Raj Left Bharatanatyam For Cricket In 'Free Hit: The Story of Women's Cricket in India'
When Jhulan Goswami took her maiden international wicket in Chennai in the year 2000, the fielder at slip who took the catch to send back England’s Caroline Atkins, was Jhulan’s age. Mithali Raj, nineteen, was at the time the Indian team’s vice-captain. By the time Jhulan was playing U-19 cricket for East Zone in 1999–2000, Mithali had already made it to the national team.
But unlike Jhulan, who had the Herculean task of convincing her family, her father especially, for Mithali cricket was already chosen as a career – by her father. Born to Indian Air Force sergeant S. Dorai Raj and Leela Raj in Jodhpur where her father was last posted, Mithali grew up in a joint family in Hyderabad.
The Rajs were like most orthodox Tamilian families where daughters were trained in some form of classical singing or dancing. Mithali was a class three student at Keyes . . .