India’s women T20I skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana on Monday reportedly wrote to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), urging it to let Ramesh Powar continue as the head coach of the team, days after the cricket board rolled out an advertisement to hire his replacement as his term ended on November 30.
In an e-mail to the BCCI, Harmanpreet and Mandhana said Powar brought a positive impact to the team after his appointment as the interim head coach in July, and that he should continue till the 2020 World Cup.
“I am writing to bring it under your notice that how tremendously our team has gone under positive changes in the past few months and has set a benchmark in the world top teams. 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, Hindustan Times quoted Harmanpreet as writing in her letter.
“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,” she added.
She also explained that Powar alone wasn’t behind Mithali Raj’s omission from the playing XI in the semi-final of the World T20.
“The decision was entirely based on the cricketing logics and observations from the past. Keeping in mind the need of the hour, me, Smriti, selector Sudha Shah and the coach together in the presence of our manager felt that we should go ahead with the winning combination,” Harmanpreet wrote.
“Cutting the conversation short, 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,” the captain further in the letter.
Powar was involved in an ugly face-off with Mithali after India’s star player was benched for the semi-final of the ICC Women’s World T20 against England which India lost by eight wickets. Several officials in the Indian cricket board were not happy with the way how Powar dealt with the dropping of Mithali and that he acted on a ‘phone call’ from an influential board member to drop India’s leading run-getter.
The situation involving Powar and Mithali flared up when Powar admitted that his professional relationship with Mithali was strained as he always found her aloof and difficult to handle. Earlier on Tuesday, Mithali slammed Committee of Administrators’ member Diana Edulji and Powar. Mithali said while Powar humiliated her during the ICC Women's World T20, Edulji used her position against her.
Afterwards, the 35-year-old cricketer tweeted, ‘’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. Today, my patriotism doubted, my skill set questioned & all the mudslinging- it's the darkest day of my life. May god give strength’’.
According to several reports, Powar had no answer to defend his decision when he was asked why Mithali's strike rate didn't come in the way of her selection for the games against Ireland and Pakistan.
Mithali’s exclusion took an ugly turn following the team’s loss in the semi-final, with the player’s manager calling Indian women’s cricket team skipper Harmanpreet a "manipulative, lying, immature, undeserving captain" in a series of tweets. Mithali’s manager, Annisha Gupta, spoke to ESPNCricinfo and confirmed that the tweets belonged to her handle and defended her statements. However, Gupta deleted the tweets later after the confirmation.
The scenario regarding the women’s cricket team coaching has been dodgy. Tushar Arothe quit following differences with the senior players over training methods in August while the situation involving Powar has decimated the morale of the team and created differences between Mithali and Harmanpreet.