Powar alone wasn’t behind Mithali Raj’s omission: Harmanpreet, Mandhana request BCCI to let head coach stay

New Delhi: The Indian Women’s T-20 team skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and her deputy Smriti Mandhana have openly come out in support of the Ramesh Powar to get an extension as head coach.

Amidst BCCI opening windows for interested candidates to submit their applications for the post of the Indian women’s cricket team’s head coach, both the key players have requested them to let Powar continue as coach keeping the upcoming World T20 in 15 months and the upcoming tour of New Zealand in mind.

More importantly, they have made it clear that Powar alone wasn’t behind ODI skipper Mithali Raj’s omission from the playing XI in the semi-final of the just concluded World T20 in the West Indies.

While the BCCI’s decision to invite fresh applications clearly means Powar will have to re-apply for the post, both the T20I skipper and deputy have written that Powar has been instrumental in changing the attitude of the players and the decision to drop ODI skipper Mithali Raj from the semi-final against England was a unanimous decision taken by the team management keeping cricketing logic in mind.

Skipper Harmanpreet in her letter wrote: “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.

“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 wrote.

She went on to explain the decision to drop Mithali. “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.”

Signing off, she 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.”

T20 Deputy Smriti echoed her sentiments and wrote to the BCCI.

She wrote: “All the meetings that were held with respect to the playing XI for all the matches came to a unanimous decision which was taken by captain, vice-captain, coach and selector in the presence of our team manager (Trupti Bhattacharya). 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.”

She went on to stress on the need for an amicable solution to the whole Mithali Raj- Ramesh Powar issue. “It is important for Indian cricket’s growth that everybody is on the same page and I believe that any difference can be amicably resolved via discussion,” she signed off.

After returning to India, Mithali had gone ahead and written a scathing letter to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and GM Cricket Operations Saba Karim and said that a few people in power were trying to destroy her career and that Diana Edulji — former woman cricketer and now a part of the CoA — broke her trust. She went on to add that Powar had time and again humiliated her during the World T20 in the West Indies.

She had gone on to add that she had no problems with T20 skipper Harmanpreet and her issues were with the coach. She also added that she knew that the content of her letter could lead her into trouble, but she had no option as she felt helpless after the recent turn of events. Powar was appointed in August after Tushar Arothe quit following differences with the senior players over training methods.