Kolkata: On Saturday, gearing up for the New Zealand tour, Indian women’s ODI captain Mithali Raj stressed on the need to bring focus back on cricket after hogging the limelight for the wrong reasons following a controversial ending to their World T20 campaign.
Mithali was in news after falling out with Ramesh Powar, who was the coach of the team at the recently held women’s World T20 in the Caribbean where she was dropped for the semifinal against England. Their spat became public after both wrote to the BCCI and their respective letters got leaked.
But the selectors have reposed their faith on Mithali who retained her place in the T20 squad and captaincy for next month’s tour to New Zealand.
“The way things panned out was obviously not in a very good taste. It affected everybody in a different level, in a different way,” Mithali said during a promotional event. “Now I am sure things are settled and we should give more spotlight on the sport, on the players and in the team.”
Mithali said she and her family had to endure a lot of stress after her controversial ouster from the team. “I can only say that the last few days were very stressful for me and my parents. And also for people around me, especially the way it panned out,” she said.
“It definitely did put women’s cricket in the spotlight which was not needed. When you talk about non cricketing issues and not the team the focus goes away from the sport.
“Now that we have a tour (vs New Zealand), it’s time that we move forward. Look forward and be more positive going forward.”
The rift between T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur and ODI captain Mithali was out in the open and the team was sharply divided into camps.
Asked if she would go along well with Harmanpreet, Mithali said: “We will see. When the 15 individual players come together with the support staff, it’s a huge and big family.
“And usually in a family there will always be a difference of opinion. Everybody will not have the same kind of perspective. There will be issues and it does happen.”
“These issues are secondary to us… Not even secondary these things do not even come in the list of priority. But when we take on the field, we are ambassadors of the sport. On the field, we are one unit, we come as a team. We are there to give our best and perform as a unit,” she said.
Mithali said she is also looking forward to working with newly-appointed coach W V Raman.
“It’s very early to comment on him. I had met him briefly at the National Cricket Academy. We have to support him and look forward to build a team.”
India are scheduled to play five ODIs and three T20Is in the tour beginning on January 24.
“We last toured there in 2007. Only Jhulan and I from the current team were part of the last tour. For many in the team it will be a first tour. It will be challenging. We should give more importance on the preparation. The priority will be to getting the team together,” she said.
“The upcoming tour will be important. It’s part of the ICC Championship one dayers and there’s a point system in place. It’s important for India to garner as many points as it will help us in 2021 World Cup,” Mithali said.
(With inputs from PTI)