On this day, 18 years ago, the then 19-year-old Mithali Raj made history in women’s cricket as she scored 214 against England at Taunton in what was the final Test of the tour.
Apart from being the first double century for India women in the longest format of the game, it was at that time also the highest Test score in the women’s cricket. The record is now held by Pakistan’s Kiran Baluch who bettered it against West Indies in 2004 with a knock of 242.
Raj, who made her India debut at the age of 16 and scored an unbeaten 114 against Ireland in 1999, was playing in only her third Test match when she created the record by overtaking the previous highest score of 209 not out made by Australia’s Karen Rolton.
Raj batted for 598 minutes and faced a total of 407 balls for her epochal 214. The innings included 14 boundaries.
#OnThisDay in 2002: @M_Raj03 went on to score a record-breaking 214 – the then highest score in an innings in women’s Test – against England Women. 👏
The stylish right-hander batted for almost 10 hours. #TeamIndia pic.twitter.com/Rs0fYYGyN4
— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) August 17, 2020
England were heavy favourites for the match as they came into the contest aiming for nothing less than a win after the first match at Shenley was abandoned. India captain Anjum Chopra won the toss and opted to field first. England scored 329 with Laura Newton smashing 98.
India had a tough task on their hands and lost two early wickets as openers Sunetra Paranjpe and Mamatha Maben departed with the scorecard reading just 45, but things were to change forever for Indian cricket as Raj walked out to bat. She was ably assisted by Chopra, Hemlata Kala and Jhulan Goswami who scored 52, 62 and 62 respectively.
From the other end, the stylish Raj continued scoring runs and brought up her double century on the third day of the match (16 August) and finished the day on 210 not out. The next morning on 17 August, Raj took her score to the record figure of 214 before falling to debutant Isha Guha as India scored 467 and took a lead of 138 runs.
England, however, managed to hold on for a draw after they scored 198/6 in the second innings.
Raj has so far played only 10 Test matches for India, scoring 663 runs at an average of 51. Her last Test came against South Africa in 2014.