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Back on top, Mithali shows her class in victory over Pakistan 

Providence: Mithali Raj had a point to prove after she was pushed down to No. 8 in India’s opening game against New Zealand at the World T20. She did so at the first opportunity — she was back at the top of the order against archrivals Pakistan on Sunday, and she hammered a brisk half-century to help India to a comfortable seven-wicket win. “Well, that has always been my role in the team,” said Mithali. “Maybe because we were playing a big team in the first game, and we wanted some experience in the middle order, you want to push yourself down in the middle order.”   But what brought her back to her preferred position? “I think they felt it would be wise for me to open as there are spinners in the Pakistan team,” she said.

  The veteran opener said she doesn’t let the size of the total they are chasing influence her approach and method; she said she goes by the merit of the ball and her instincts. “As a batter, you would want to focus on the ball and play with instinct. Batting is all about instincts,” she said. “As a batter, my focus is only on watching the ball and playing instinctively, whether it is an aggressive shot or walking out for a single.”

Having played and achieved so much in Test and ODI cricket, what keeps her going in the shortest format? “Well, representing the country is the biggest motivation and inspiration, no matter how many years you have spent wearing the India colours. But yes, given the transition the team has been through and with youngsters coming in, I believe the team is settling down, so it could probably be the last World Cup for me,” said Mithali. She sounded hopeful about the start of women’s IPL in a year or two. “Well, I definitely see IPL in a year or two because a lot of people back home talk about it. But then it all boils down to the board and the franchises to come forward to get the setup going.” 

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