Something is fishy in Indian team, says ex-coach over Mithali Raj's ouster from team
Exclusion of Mithali Raj from team that took a drubbing at the hands of England at the World T20 semi-final raises Tushar Arothe's eyebrows
Team India paid a heavy price for leaving out their senior-most player Mithali Raj from the XI in the semi-final clash against England on Thursday — an eight-wicket defeat and a numbing exit. After being unbeaten in the four group stage games, India were completely off colour. From being 89-2, they slumped to 112 all out in 19.3 overs.
India did manage to get rid of England openers Danielle Wyatt (8) and Tammy Beaumont (1) inside the first five overs, but they were left off the hook as Amy Jones (53 not out) and Natalie Sciver (52 not out) helped England chase the paltry total with 17 balls to spare.
This is the second significant T20 title India have lost under Harmanpreet Kaur's captaincy after the Asia Cup T20 final against Bangladesh in June. Raj's omission also left her family and close aides shell-shocked. Former India coach Tushar Arothe, who resigned from his position in July this year, sensed something fishy in the Raj dropping. "I don't know what is happening there, sitting miles away from the action. But something is definitely fishy. How can you leave out Mithali? If you wanted her to sit out then they should not have included her in first place," Arothe fumed over the phone from Baroda in a chat with mid-day.
"It was such a big game and we have an experienced campaigner in our team. When you read the pitch, you should have known that it is slow in nature and we need some experienced players. We have just have two or three match-winners in the team like Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti (Mandhana) and Mithali Raj. I fail to understand why Mithali was not included," he added.
Raj, who is India's highest T20I run-getter across both genders with 2283 runs, was slotted at No. 8 in the batting order during the opening match against New Zealand. In the next two matches, she returned to her opening position and slammed consecutive half centuries against Pakistan and Ireland, taking her tally to 107 runs in two innings. An injury prevented Raj from playing the inconsequential match against Australia. On the other hand, the likes of Veda Krishnamurthy, who scored 24 runs in five innings, were persisted with. Arothe slammed the team management for sticking to Krishnamurthy. "What has Veda done? She has been out of form.
How was she picked in the playing XI for all matches? You could have easily played Mithali in her place. I fail to understand how can someone take such [radical] decisions. I am sure the England camp would have been rejoicing when they learnt Mithali was not in the XI.
"It's horses for courses. [When] Veda is out of form, then why is she still in the team? I am not just looking at her performance in the World T20. You can look at her record in the last five to six months. Something is going on," Arothe said, giving an indication of an unhappy environment.
The ex-India coach also suspected that the team management erred in reading the pitch correctly. "They may have expected a flat track. That is the only reason [that would have made sense] for not including Mithali. But the pitch had slow turn and that's why you require an experienced player. Harmanpreet and Smriti are strokemakers, so they will go for their shots. We needed someone to stick around," he said. "I am not saying that we would have won had Mithali played, but at least she would have made other batters play and we could have posted a respectable total," he added.
Arothe also came down heavily on Kaur's captaincy. "We opened the field after getting two early wickets. I don't understand why we went defensive in our field-setting. We also dropped some sitters. The running between the wickets was poor as well. If we had good fitness, we would have converted the ones into twos," Arothe signed off.
'No regrets over dropping Mithali'
Antigua: The decision to drop Mithali Raj backfired during India's semi-final loss to England but skipper Harmanpreet Kaur said that she has "no regrets". "Whatever we decided, we decided for the team. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't... no regrets," she said.
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