Indian ODI captain and the country’s highest-scoring T20 cricketer, Mithali Raj, finds herself in the middle of a controversy after she was dropped from the Indian team for the Women’s World T20 semi-final against England.
India lost the match, and after returning to the country, Mithali submitted her side of the story, alleging that coach Romesh Powar was behind the decision to leave her out of the playing XI. Powar, in his report, claims Mithali put her interests ahead of the team’s and even threatened to retire in the middle of the tournament if not allowed to bat her regular opening slot.
Here are the latest updates in the controversy:
Harman and Smriti Want Powar to Stay
BCCI Invite Coach Applications
Mithali 'Deeply Saddened'
I'm deeply saddened & hurt by the aspersions cast on me. My commitment to the game & 20yrs of playing for my country.The hard work, sweat, in vain.— Mithali Raj (@M_Raj03) November 29, 2018
Today, my patriotism doubted, my skill set questioned & all the mud slinging- it's the darkest day of my life. May god give strength
“It's the darkest day of my life,” Mithali Raj tweeted, responding to coach Ramesh Powar's allegations that she threatened retirement over a batting position and threw tantrums during the WT20.
"I'm deeply saddened & hurt by the aspersions cast on me. My commitment to the game & 20yrs of playing for my country," she wrote.
Gavaskar Supports Mithali
Mithali found a supporter in Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar who said a player of her experience should not have been left out of a crucial match in the first place.
"“I feel sorry for Mithali. She has served Indian cricket for 20 years. She scored runs, she won player of the match in both matches. You have to pick your best player for the knockouts. You needed the experience and expertise of Mithali Raj.”" - Sunil Gavaskar
Coach Powar Says Mithali 'Threatened to Retire'
Women’s team coach Ramesh Powar, in his report to the BCCI, accused Mithali of throwing tantrums and creating chaos.
In a 10-page tour report that was almost entirely focussed on Mithali, he wrote, “I hope Mithali stops blackmailing, pressurising coaches and putting her interest first than the team.”
He also alleged that Mithali threatened to retire in the middle of the tournament over the decision to make her bat lower in the order.
“Video analyst Mr Pushkar Sawant came to my room with the news that fielding coach Mr Biju George conveyed to him that Mithali is upset about not changing the batting order & not allowing her to open in Pakistan match. She has packed her bags to leave with announcement of retirement in the morning,” wrote Powar.
Mithali Letter Leaked
In a letter to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and Cricket Operations GM Saba Karim that was leaked to the media, Mithali Raj said she was ‘being humiliated’ by coach Ramesh Powar during the World T20 and also hit out at CoA member Diana Edulji saying, ‘few people in power are out to destroy me’.
"For instance, walking off if I am sitting anywhere around, watching in the nets when others bat but choosing to walk away when I am batting in nets, if I try to go up to him to talk to start looking into his phone and keep walking. It was embarrassing and very evident to everyone that I was being humiliated." - Mithali Raj on Ramesh Powar
Mithali and Harman Meet BCCI Officials
Even as Edulji stated that the team selection could not be questioned, BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and GM (Cricket Operations) Saba Karim met T20 skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, Mithali Raj and the women’s team manager Trupti Bhattacharya on Monday.
"Yes, we (Johri and Karim) met Mithali, Harman and . All of them met us separately and put across their viewpoints. We have noted everything down," Johri told PTI.
Coach Ramesh Powar was scheduled to meet the board members on Wednesday.
Diana Says No CoA Intervention
While questions were being asked on weather the board would intervene, CoA member Diana Edulji said on Monday that the team management's selection decisions cannot be questioned.
"I think too much is being made out of it. The management (captain Harmanpreet Kaur, coach Ramesh Powar, vice captain Smriti Mandhana and selector Sudha Shah) made the decision of not changing a winning combination and that backfired. If I India had won the game, I am sure nobody would have questioned their decision." - Diana Edulji, Member - CoA
Mithali's 'Manager's' Rant
Mithali’s omission or the skipper’s stand – one of the two triggered a Twitter tirade by Annisha Gupta, who claims to be a freelance consultant but was popularly considered to be the Mithali’s manager.
Calling Harmanpreet a "manipulative, lying, immature, undeserving captain,” Gupta said Raj’s exclusion had to do a lot with "politics” and not the sport.
"Unfortunately @BCCIWomen believes in politics not sport. After witnessing what @M_Raj03 ‘s experience could do in IndvIre it’s shocking that they went with what pleases @ImHarmanpreet -a manipulative, lying, immature, undeserving captain (sic)." - Annisha Gupta
Few hours later, neither the tweet nor the Twitter account was found on the internet. The account had been deleted, and soon enough, Gupta issued a ‘clarification’ insisting that while the tweets were posted by her, she was in no way associated with Mithali as her manager.
"I am a freelancer and I have only brought her a few commercial deals/brand endorsements and events. I do this for other athletes as well and, therefore, if any views are expressed by me, they’re my personal views in my private capacity." - Annisha Gupta
Mithali Dropped From S/F, India Lose
Unbeaten in the group stage, India were facing England in the semi-final of the Women’s World T20 last Friday in Antigua. Mithali had missed the last of the league matches due to an injury was expected to boost the Indian line-up against the team that had beaten them in the final of the ICC World Cup in 2017.
At the toss though, skipper Harmanpreet Kaur announced that India had elected to stick to the ‘winning combination’ and the country’s highest-scorer in T20 cricket would be sitting this one out.
The decision backfired terribly as the entire line-up managed to score just 112 and England charged to the total within 18 overs.
Despite the defeat, the captain said she did not regret her selection choices.
. Read more on Cricket by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsDecoded: This is How Your Smartphone is Disrupting Your Sleep . Read more on Cricket by The Quint.