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Mithali Raj becomes first woman cricketer to appear at six Cricket World Cups

Mount Maunganui (New Zealand): Indian women’s cricket team skipper Mithali Raj on Sunday became the first woman, and only the third cricketer ever, to appear at six ICC Women’s Cricket World Cups.

Leading Indian in the opening game of their World Cup campaign here, the 39-year-old could manage just nine runs in 36 deliveries as she was caught by Pakistan Diana Baig off Nashra Sandhu’s bowling on Sunday.

In doing so, Mithali ensured the record enters a new decade — former Pakistan cricketer Javed Miandad appeared in the first six Men’s Cricket World Cups between 1975 and 1996 with Sachin Tendulkar beginning his World Cup career in 1992.

By the time Tendulkar’s fairy-tale finish came in 2011, Mithali had already captained India at a World Cup after having made her tournament debut in 2000.

As skipper the records keep coming, the right-hander now equals Australian legend Belinda Clark by captaining at her fourth ICC Women’s World Cup — Clark’s tenure spanning from 1993 to 2005, according to ICC.

Clark and Mithali stand as the only two players to have captained their country at more than two World Cups.

But Mithali also eclipses her fellow batter as the span between first captaining her country and last doing so stretches to 17 years, the Australian’s tenure as skipper came across 12.

And it is not just her captaincy that is breaking records — her World Cup career now spans more than two decades with no women ever having played in ICC Women’s World Cups 20 years apart.

It was New Zealand Debbie Hockley who previously held the record having made her debut on 10 January 1982 with her last match the 2000 final on December 23, 24 days after Mithali’s debut.

And it is this standard that the 39-year-old Mithali continually finds herself amongst — only Hockley (45) and England’s Jan Brittin (36) have played more World Cup games.

In moving to six World Cup appearances, Raj leaves behind the company of England duo Charlotte Edwards, Clare Taylor and Hockley as the only other women to have made five appearances at a Women’s World Cup.

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