Women's World Cup 2017

Mithali Raj believes she could not enhance her skills due to the burden of responsibility

The quotes came on the back of her record-breaking innings against Australia and hints at lack of adequate support from other batters in the team

Mithali Raj created a world record on Wednesday, one of the many she owns, by becoming the first woman to breach the 6000-run barrier and now highest run-scorer of all time in ODIs, going past Charlotte Edwards. But she cut a disappointed figure in her post-match press conference and understandably so, because the team had lost the match against defending champions Australia.

As a captain, she was right to be disappointed. She was right to be upset. But the post-match quotes were revealing in more than one way. She sounded introspective and at times, even a bit alone in success. On more than one occasion, she seemed to hint that the teams she’s played in have held her back in some ways.

While it was understandable to reflect on the long journey, one cannot help but wonder if talking about being held back by the burden of responsibility augurs well ahead of a must-win match against New Zealand on Saturday. In terms of building morale for the team, even if unintentional, this seeming lack of confidence from their captain, could be a downer.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

On the journey so far

“Yeah quite the journey. Obviously when you have a long career there’s bound to be a lot of ups and downs. I’ve enjoyed batting I’ve always did and specially when the team requires me to stand up and get runs. One thing that has always been constant is the burden that I’ve carried all through my career. I felt that , someway if I had a few more batters to support me, maybe I would’ve, my game would have been much much better than what it is or what it was.”

Presence in the middle

“And even coming into the world cup, considering how the team has been performing the last 2 years I believe it was the right time for me to elevate my own personal batting standards into the tournament. But again it has come back to the same phase where me being in the middle gives lot of confidence for the other batters and it keeps the dressing room more confident. I’ve enjoyed my long career but also at the same time if I really have to introspect, I think probably because of the responsibility I’ve not really been able to enhance my batting as much as I want to.”

‘It could have been better’

“Playing for a stronger side with more players to stand up and win games it gives you the freedom to play your shots and you don’t have to think about what happens if you get out. There are times when you want to take calculated risks, but ‘What if you get out?’ has always been in the back of my mind through my career. India has always had that problem. Faced with crunch matches, the team doesn’t step up.”

“There are times where I can push it to the next level. But I never got that opportunity in the teams that I’ve played. I lacked three or four players who could stand up.”

And an ominous note ahead of New Zealand

“If it is a very crucial game which decides the win, we have usually faltered in that match.”

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German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.