Mithali Raj’s omission from the Indian cricket team for the crunch semi-final against England in the Women’s World T20 encounter in North Sound, Antigua raised plenty of questions. Following India’s collapse and the exit from the tournament, criticism of Harmanpreet Kaur’s decision has grown. However, Mithali’s exclusion has now taken an ugly turn, 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.
Mithali’s manager added when the matches were telecast, one could see who was performing and who was not and stated the treatment given to India’s star player was undeserved. “The kind of treatment she has received is completely uncalled for and there is something deeper than we need to look at than just the statements that have been coming out,” Gupta said.
When asked about the tweets, Gupta said she was angry and said she could not tolerate unfair behavior. “The kind of favouritism that has been shown is very apparent. I think everybody can see the kind of favouritism that is being shown to certain members of the team,” Gupta added.
Mithali’s omission a blunder?
India left out Mithali for the semi-final game against England and it raised questions, for the right-hander had scored two consecutive fifties in the league game against Pakistan and Ireland. India suffered a dramatic collapse, losing eight wickets for 23 runs as they were bowled out for a below-par score of 112 and England chased the target down to win by eight wickets.
After the match, Harmanpreet Kaur said the decision to bench Mithali was for the interest of the team. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. One game doesn't decide whether we are a good team or a bad team. We have a very young team and it was a learning curve for us. We still have to work on our mental strength - learning to play under pressure will be a key thing to learn for us,” Harmanpreet said.
India has reached the 50-over final twice in 2005 and 2017 and in two World T20 semi-finals in 2009 and 2010. The common factor in all these tournaments was the presence of Mithali. Her experience on the big game stage could have been vital for a team that has some fresh faces and facing the challenge for the first time.
Mithali is the leading run-getter for India in Women’s World T20 and she is also the all-time leading run-scorer in ODIs.