Harmanpreet & Smriti Write to BCCI, Back Powar to Remain Coach

Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana want Ramesh Powar to continue as coach despite the controversy that has rocked Indian women’s cricket.

Committee of Administrators (COA) chairman Vinod Rai told PTI that Kaur and Mandhana – India’s T20I captain and vice-captain – have backed Powar to continue as coach till 2021. Powar's interim tenure ended on 30 November and the BCCI has already invited fresh applications for the job. Powar is free to re-apply.

"Yes, they have written a letter stating that they want Ramesh Powar to continue," Rai said.

Though Harmanpreet and Smriti are for Powar's extension, it is learnt that Ekta Bisht and Mansi Joshi are against his reinstatement along with ODI captain Mithali.

Mithali Raj and Ramesh Powar are embroiled in a controversy after Raj was dropped from the Indian team for the Women’s World T20 semi-final against England.

Harman, Smriti Back Powar

Both Harmanpreet and Smriti have underlined Powar’s instrumental role, in their opinion, in transforming the team and their performances. Kaur backed her defense of the seemingly-outgoing coach by stating Powar’s involvement was imperative with the next edition of the T20 World Cup only 15 months away.

"“I, as the T20 captain and ODI vice-captain is appealing before you to allow Powar to further continue as our team coach. There are hardly 15 months for the next T20 World Cup and a month to go for the New Zealand tour. The way he has transformed us as a team, I feel no reason to replace him. Sir Ramesh Powar not only improved us as players but did motivate us to set targets and challenge our own limits. He has changed the faced of Indian women’s cricket team both technically and strategically. He has inculcated in us the sense of winning.”" - Harmanpreet Kaur in Email to BCCI

Mandhana went on to attribute India’s rapidly-improving display on the field to Powar, reportedly stating that he “changed the intent of the players and gave everyone confidence”.

Matters have worsened post the team’s return to India from the West Indies, with an e-mail from Raj to BCCI bosses citing her feeling of being “humiliated” by Powar being leaked to the media. Powar himself has revealed how the Indian ODI captain “threatened to retire” during the ill-fated WT20 campaign.

‘Mithali’s Exclusion Based on Cricketing Logics’

Kaur and the Indian team management’s decision to bench veteran batter Raj for the WT20 semis in November, which India went on to lose to England, was widely criticised among the Indian cricket fraternity. But the skipper appears to have backed the move, and almost as if to exonerate Powar, suggested the decision wasn’t his alone.

"“With regard to the exclusion of Mithali Raj, Sir Ramesh Powar was not single handedly responsible. The decision was entirely based on the cricketing logics and observations from the past. Keeping in mind the need of the hour where me, Smriti, the selector (Sudha Shah) and the coach together in the presence of our manager felt that we should go ahead with the winning combination. And I believe it should have come to your understanding that the intent was not personal but entirely based for the welfare of the team.”" - Harmanpreet Kaur in Email to BCCI

Kaur’s opinion, if true, was mirrored by vice-captain Mandhana. “All the meetings that were held with respect to the playing XI for all the matches came to a unanimous decision which was taken by captain, vice-captain, coach and selector in the presence of our team manager (Trupti Bhattacharya),” Mandhana was quoted as saying by a Hindustan Times report.

Mandhana was insistent upon an amicable resolution being found to the saga for the better of Indian cricket.

"“It is important for Indian cricket’s growth that everybody is on the same page and I believe that any difference can be amicably resolved via discussion.”" - Smriti Mandhana to BCCI

Kaur, too, has reportedly expressed that the furore engulfing the Women in Blue has been “disheartening”.

“Our defeat in the semi-finals was very disheartening and it brings us all to feel more miserable to see how the controversies has stained our image and questioned the entire cricket fraternity,” she is quoted to have said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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