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Posted at: Dec 4, 2018, 2:07 AM; last updated: Dec 4, 2018, 2:07 AM (IST)

Powar trip leaves split wide open

Harmanpreet, Smriti seek Powar’s extension; Mithali, Ekta Bisht, Mansi Joshi against his reinstatement

New Delhi, December 3

The acrimonious end to Indian women’s coach Ramesh Powar’s tenure on Monday split the women’s cricket team with T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur and her deputy Smriti Mandhana demanding his return despite senior player Mithali Raj’s falling-out with him.

The Committee of Administrators (CoA) chairman Vinod Rai said Harmanpreet and Smriti have backed Powar to continue as the coach till 2021. Powar’s interim tenure ended on November 30 and BCCI has already invited fresh applications for the job. Powar is free to re-apply. 

“Yes, they have written a letter stating that they want Ramesh Powar to continue,” Rai said. Though Harmanpreet and Smriti are for Powar’s extension, it is learnt that Ekta Bisht and Mansi Joshi are against his reinstatement along with ODI captain Mithali.

Powar’s term ended a week after India lost the semifinals of the World T20I to England. The team management dropped Mithali for the knockout fixture, triggering a huge controversy. Mithali went on to accuse Powar and the CoA member Diana Edulji of trying to destroy her career and having a bias against her. Powar, on his part, accused Mithali of threatening to retire midway into the World T20I after being denied the opening slot and creating chaos in the team. 

Drama in store

On Monday, things became more dramatic with Harmanpreet throwing her weight behind the former spinner. “I, as the T20 captain and ODI vice-captain, am appealing to you to allow Powar to continue as our team coach. There are hardly 15 months for the next T20I 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,” Harmanpreet wrote. In the letter, which is also addressed to BCCI office-bearers, Harmanpreet and Smriti said the team has improved significantly since Powar was appointed as a full-time coach in August. “Our defeat in the semifinals was very disheartening and it brings us all to feel more miserable to see how the controversies have stained our image,” Harmanpreet said.

“Sir, Ramesh Powar not only improved us as players but motivated us to set targets and challenge our own limits. He has changed the face of Indian women’s cricket team technically and strategically. He has inculcated in us a sense of winning,” she wrote.

The star batswoman also reiterated that dropping Mithali was a decision of the team management.

Harmanpreet added that a change of coach at this juncture will hamper the team’s growth. “And whatever may be the reason for Ramesh sir’s and Mithali Raj’s conflicts, they should solve it across the table like a family and call it truce,” she noted. Smriti endorsed Harmanpreet’s view on the controversial matter, saying Powar has made them better cricketers. — PTI

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