Over the last week, there has been a series of revelations and accusations which have put the Committee of Administrators and the BCCI in a rather, bad light. It started when in the Women’s World T20 Semi-Finals, one of India’s most successful cricketers, Mithali Raj, was not selected into the playing XI.
With a gleam in their eyes to win the Women’s World T20 for the first time, the Indian Women’s cricket team reached the Caribbean Islands. The Women in blue had come agonisingly close a year ago to win the Women’s World Cup but they fall out just 9 runs short, losing out to the host, England.
India had a dream run in the tournament with their win against Australia – who later won the tournament – was applauded by all the pundits of the game. In the Semis, the table toppers registered a heavy defeat at the hands of England. It is after this defeat that the talks about a certain Mithali Raj who wasn’t listed for this game, surfaced.
Mithali in the League Matches
In the game against arch-rivals Pakistan, the Indian team started their chase of 134 with 10 runs already on the board, thanks to the penalty that was put on Pakistan for running in the dangerous area. The ‘now in controversy’ Mithali Raj, scored a brilliant 56, cruising India to a comfortable victory. Against Ireland, Raj was once again instrumental, scoring yet another fifty, registering yet another victory for India. She was adjudged player of the match in both these games. The player was apparently rested for the final league game against Australia as she was unwell.
November 23 – With India knocking out, the controversy knocks in
In the Semi-Final leg of the tournament, India was pitted against England and here’s when the controversy began to erupt. Mithali, one of the most successful players in the tournament, was not there in the playing XI, though she was available for the pick.
At the toss captain, Harmanpreet had said, “Mithali Raj isn’t playing – we’re going with the same team as the last game. We’re backing the winning combination.” India ended up on the losing side, they were wrecked at a mere total of 112 after scoring 89/2 at one point. The target was chased down in just 17.1 overs.
At the post-game presentation when the Indian captain was asked about Mithali Raj, she said, “We were going with a winning combination. We did really well against Australia. And that is the reason we just wanted to go with the same combination. Whatever we decided, it was for the team. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” While all the top cricketers around the world criticized the team’s approach of not taking the two Player of the Match winner in a knock-out setting, a series of accusations started surfacing.
Reportedly, the Indian team decided to go without Mithali after judging the surface of the pitch.
The first among many accusations were made by Annisha Gupta. Gupta, who manages Mithali Raj, lashed out on the captain. In a series of tweets, the manager said, “Unfortunately, the Indian women’s cricket team believes in politics not sport. After witnessing what Mithali Raj’s experience could do in India vs Ireland, it’s shocking that they went with what pleases Harmanpreet Kaur – a manipulative, lying, immature, undeserving captain.”
November 25 – BCCI takes note
The BCCI started to look into the matter. Committee of Administrators(CoA), chief Vinod Rai, in an interview with PTI said, “The comments made by people who appear to be associated with the Indian women’s team have been viewed with concern.” Adding that, “All players, the team management and persons associated with them must maintain decorum and follow the proper protocol”.
November 26 – CoA member said, “team just had a bad day”
On Monday, Diana Edulji, member of CoA shared her thoughts with PTI. She said that the team management’s decision cannot be questioned. According to her the team just had a “bad day”. Denying any sorts of interventions by the CoA, Edulji said, “There is no need for the CoA to intervene. If they want to have a word with us, then that can be looked at. We only step in when it is required like it was when Tushar Arothe stepped down.” She further said, “I wish they had a bad game like that earlier in the competition and not in the all-important semifinal. The girls now have a New Zealand tour coming up, they must move on from this loss and work harder on their game.“
(Arothe had left the job as India’s coach in July this year after a rift broke out with regards to the training methods with the senior player.)
November 27 – The cricketer writes to BCCI
The controversy reached an all-time peak after Mithali wrote a scathing e-mail to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and Cricket Operations’ General Manager, Saba Karim.
According to Raj, she was dropped because of Diana Edulji and the team coach Ramesh Powar.
In the e-mail, the cricketer said, “Never did I think she (Edulji) will use her position against me, more after hearing what all I had to go through in the Caribbean as I had spoken to her about it.”
November 29 – Mithali Raj says, “it’s the darkest day of my life”
After receiving the reports that called Powar to have a strained relationship with Raj, the coach responded, saying that he “totally deny the contents in the story.” In a report given to the BCCI by Powar, he said, that the women cricketer would not adapt to team plan and play just for her milestones. He went on to further say that Raj threatened to call her retirement and leave the World T20 had she not been allowed to open against Pakistan.
I’m deeply saddened & hurt by the aspersions cast on me. My commitment to the game & 20yrs of playing for my country.The hard work, sweat, in vain.
Today, my patriotism doubted, my skill set questioned & all the mud slinging- it’s the darkest day of my life. May god give strength
— Mithali Raj (@M_Raj03) November 29, 2018
Mithali Raj shared, “I’m deeply saddened & hurt by the aspersions cast on me. My commitment to the game & 20yrs of playing for my country.The hard work, sweat, in vain. Today, my patriotism doubted, my skill set questioned & all the mud slinging– it’s the darkest day of my life. May god give strength”.
November 30 – No contract extension for Powar
The BCCI has decided to not extend the tenure of Ramesh Powar as the coach of the Indian women cricket team. The cricketing controlling body in India is now on the lookout for a new coach.
Though Powar was eligible for a 12-month extension, BCCI chose otherwise.
December 3 – Harmanpreet and Smriti support Powar
T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana have extended their support to Ramesh Powar. The cricketers backed Powar to be the team’s coach till 2021.
As it is an ongoing story, we will update this page as and when new developments come up.