Mithali Raj was axed from the Indian team for the semi-final against England in the ICC Women's World T20. (Image credit: Twitter)
Ramesh Powar, the current coach of the Indian women's cricket team, might have to pay a price for his face-off with Mithali Raj which has destroyed the morale of the Indian women’s cricket team following their defeat in the semi-final of the ICC Women’s World T20 against England. According to a report in Times of India, Powar, whose contract ends on November 30, is unlikely to get an extension to his tenure. Several officials in the Board of Control for Cricket in India have expressed unhappiness over the way how Powar handled the situation of dropping Mithali from the squad despite scoring two fifties in the league stages. In the last four game, India benched their most experienced member and they lost the game by eight wickets to crash out of the tournament.
The report stated several BCCI officials are upset that Powar reportedly acted on a phone call from a ‘very influential member’ in Mumbai on the day of the match and did not have a dialogue with Mithali before taking the decision to drop her. The BCCI members, who are not named, also said that Powar could not stand up to the pressure created from the outside to drop one of India’s star batters.
‘Darkest day of my life’
On Thursday, 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’’.
Earlier, she said, “For the first time in a 20-year long career, I felt deflated, depressed and let down. I am forced to think if my services to my country are of any value to a few people in power who are out to destroy me and break my confidence’’.
Mithali also lashed out at Committee of Administrators official Diana Edulji, accusing her of bias. Powar admitted that his professional relationship with Mithali was strained as he always found her aloof and difficult to handle.
Loss vs England opens up Pandora’s Box
Mithali’s exclusion took an ugly turn following the team’s loss in the semifinal, 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.
Harmanpreet had 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,” the Indian skipper said following the loss.