India women's captain, Mithali Raj was honoured with the Padma Shri for her service to cricket for well over a decade. She first donned the colours in 1999 and has since represented the country in 153 ODIs, 10 Test matches and 47 T20Is. (Also Read: Mithali Raj speaks about her cricketing roots and the coveted Padma Shri award)
Speaking on the occasion, Raj was quoted saying, "It came as a pleasant surprise.” While expressing her gratitude towards her parents for their contribution in her journey, she said, “I am also very happy for my parents who have sacrificed so much for me. It is for them that I am very happy.”
“It (the national award) is a nice way of appreciating your efforts because, at the time when I started playing cricket, there was no awareness for women’s cricket. People did not even know that women’s cricket existed. From that time to present days where people want to follow women’s cricket, I think we have come a long way,” she said.
The 32-year old veteran hopes that award would inspire young girls to take up the sport. “These awards will encourage young girls and players to take up the sport and do much better. With this award probably people will be following women’s cricket keenly and will take a note of the international calendar of women,” she was quoted as saying.