Mithali Raj-Ramesh Powar controversy took another turn when India T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur and her deputy Smriti Mandhana backed Ramesh Powar to continue as a coach despite the differences between veteran Mithali Raj and Ramesh Powar.
The public spat started after dropping Mithali Raj in the semi-final against Australia where India lost the game by eight wickets. Where everyone supported Mithali Raj in this controversy, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana wrote to BCCI and CoA in support of Ramesh Powar.
After Tushar Arothe’s sudden left, Ramesh Powar was given a three-month contract, till the end of November. Under Powar, India won both the ODI and T20I series in Sri Lanka and topped their group in the World T20. It was India’s first semifinal appearance in World T20 after eight long years.
Having backed Powar, Harmanpreet wrote, “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 into a team, I feel no reason to replace him.”
“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,” Harmanpreet added. “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 face of Indian women’s cricket team both technically and strategically. He has inculcated in us the sense of winning.”
She also wrote that dropping Mithali Raj was a decision taken by the team management. “With regard to the exclusion of Mithali Raj, sir Ramesh Powar was not single-handedly responsible. The decision was entirely based on the cricketing logic 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 added that a new change at this time could hamper the team’s growth. “Another change of coach will affect our growth and we will have to start from the scratch. And whatever may be the reason for Ramesh sir’s and Mithali Raj’s conflicts, they should solve it across the table like a family and call it a truce. This will provide more sense and security to them and the entire team.”
Smriti Mandhana too supported Harmanpreet Kaur in this, said Powar helped them to become a better cricketer. “Since the introduction of Powar, he along with the support staff has boosted our confidence as a team which has helped us win 14 consecutive T20 matches. He changed the intent of the players and gave everyone confidence,” Mandhana wrote in her report.
The last date for applying for the coach’s job will end on December 14. The BCCI is looking for a candidate to fill the vacancy whereas Kaur and Mandhana have already reached Australia to play in the Women’s Big Bash League.