Mithali Raj predicts bright future for women's cricket in India

Mithali Raj in action
Mithali Raj scored more than 10,000 international runs for India

The introduction of a women's Indian Premier League (IPL) will lead to a "big-time" change in women's cricket in India and beyond, says former India captain Mithali Raj.

India are in England for a multi-format white-ball series which includes three Twenty20 internationals and finishes with three one-day internationals, with the final one at Lord's.

The women's game continues to grow, with record attendances at every ground in The Hundred, which finished earlier this month.

Speaking on a new documentary series called One Billion to One, The Great Indian Cricket Dream, which is due to be screened later this month on the BBC World News Channel and iPlayer, Raj believes the positive changes will only continue.

"With the Women's IPL announced for next year [March 2023], clearly things are going to change big time for women's cricket," said Raj, who is India's most decorated female cricketer.

"Now is the time for girls to take up the sport as a profession because it is viable and there is money involved, and now it's not in obscurity - there is so much attached to women's cricket.

"There is fame and glory, and with social media, everything is amplified. Not many girls had a female role model in cricket until now."

Raj, who played 12 Tests, 232 ODIs and 89 T20s for India, says the route into the women's game is much clearer in India than when she started playing in the early 1990s.

"For my grandparents, it was difficult for them to process that their granddaughter was getting into sport, and a sport which is a rough sport," said Raj.

"None of my cousins are into sport and I'm the only one in the family who has chosen what was an unconventional profession for a women to take up back in those days.

"My first impression of cricket was that it was only meant for boys because the academy my brother was at was full of boys. I didn't see a single girl.

"Then one day my brother's coach asked me to pick up the bat. I obviously impressed him, perhaps more than my brother did, because the coach told my dad to invest his energy, time and money into turning his daughter into a cricketer rather than his son."

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