Mithali Raj upset and angered the whole women's team: Ramesh Powar
India women's team head coach Ramesh Powar reveals his side were confused and angry at Mithali for not sticking to squad's plan of dominating Pakistan in World T20 game at Guyana
India women's cricket team head coach Ramesh Powar yesterday hit back sharply at Mithali Raj's accusations that the former India off-spinner was out to destroy her career and humiliate her. Powar in his report, accessed by mid-day, which was submitted to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and General Manager Syed Saba Karim yesterday, has claimed that Raj threatened to leave for home from the World T20 in the Caribbean if she was not allowed to open the innings against Pakistan. Powar also accused Raj, the highest run-getter for India in T20Is, of lack of intent, playing for personal milestones and putting self interest before the team's goal. "Before the Pakistan match, video analyst Pushkar Sawant came to my room with the news that fielding coach Biju George conveyed to him that Mithali is upset about not changing the batting order and not allowing her to open against Pakistan.
Mithali threatens to leave
"She has packed her bags to leave with announcement of retirement in the morning. I was shell-shocked. The team had just beaten one of the top teams [New Zealand] and Mithali Raj, a legend, is still complaining about her batting position which she had agreed upon and threatening to leave. "I was saddened and baffled by her attitude. It gave me an impression that for Mithali, she comes first and then Team India. I called team manager [Trupti Bhattacharya] early in the morning and discussed the issue. I did not convey this to the captain [Harmanpreet Kaur] and vice-captain [Smriti Mandhana] as I didn't want them to lose their focus of the most important match. During breakfast on the match day, I told Harman & Smriti that we will open with Mithali and they agreed. We opened with Mithali due to pressure from the travelling selector and Mithali's threatening behaviour to go back home if not given a chance to open the innings," Powar said.
Raj's attitude annoyed Powar and the team. "Chasing 134 with 10 runs head start, in 6 overs we were 48 for no loss. From 6th over till the 15th over, Mithali played 24 balls and scored only 25 runs which hurt us in net run rate. The whole team, especially the batting unit, was confused and angry as (to) what she was trying to achieve by scoring the fifty and not sticking to the team plan of dominance," said the former India off-spinner. Though Raj has claimed that she doesn't have major differences with T20I skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, Powar mentioned the sour relationship between the two senior players during an ODI match v Sri Lanka where Raj, the ODI captain, did not share bowling plans with Kaur after not taking the field due to fatigue.
Regarding the Australia match in which Raj accused Powar for putting her under house arrest, the coach clarified: "The physio informed us that she is not available for selection due to mild fever & minor injury to knee (sic), which she recovered in one day [quiet strange]. As a coach, I asked her to take rest in the hotel so that she can get better and recover quickly, but she did not listen and came to the ground for the Australia match, which was surprising. After we finished our last league match in Guyana, we called the team members, including the support staff, on to the ground to thank and appreciate the Indian supporters. Mithali was reluctant to come down."
Raj's accusation that Powar ignored her when she batted in the nets was also clarified by the coach in his report: "She was supposed to do fielding with the team after batting which she did not [do]. I stayed and watched her bat for 10 minutes and went in the ground to check how is the session going inside the stadium. I came back with the physio to watch her bat again. After finishing batting in the nets, physio and me asked how she is feeling as it was her first net session after a break. She responded with a nod as if our question does not matter to her," Powar said.
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