Mithali Raj’s exclusion from the ICC Women’s World T20 semi-final clash against England has created a storm in Indian women’s cricket. India suffered a disastrous collapse to be knocked out and following the defeat, Mithali’s manager Annisha Gupta dubbed Harmanpreet Kaur “manipulative, lying, immature and undeserving” as captain. Now, the controversy has snowballed with the Committee of Adminstrators (CoA) demanding Mithali’s fitness logs. The CoA has also sought an explanation as to how the minutes of the meeting regarding the team selection for the semi-finals was leaked to the media.
The CoA is apparently miffed that the report was leaked to the media. In a report on Times of India, the team management took the decision only after watching the first semi-final between Australia and West Indies. After the training session, Harmanpreet, coach Ramesh Powar and selector Sudha Shah met to decide the playing XI and drop Mithali. Trupti Bhattacharya, the team manager of the Indian women’s team, said in her report the captain, coach and selector said the same winning combination against Australia should play. The report added that Sudha Shah did not express anything and was a ‘mere spectator’.
The committee wants an explanation in this matter and has asked for an explanation from two senior BCCI executives, including CEO Rahul Johri. Powar and manager Bhattacharya will meet the CoA and BCCI officials on Monday.
Mithali’s exclusion raises eyebrows
When India won the toss and chose to bat, Harmanpreet announced that Mithali was not playing in this crunch game. This resulted in some surprise and eyebrows were raised. Mithali had missed the game against eventual champions Australia as she had suffered an injury but according to reports before the game, the India veteran had recovered. India had made good progress at 89/2 and everyone almost forgot Mithali's omission but a catastrophic collapse of eight for 23 saw India being bowled out for a below-par 112 and England achieved an easy eight-wicket win to enter the final.
Speaking in the post-match press conference, Harmanpreet said the decision to bench Mithali was taken for the team. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. One game doesn't decide whether we are a good team or a bad team. We have a very young team and it was a learning curve for us. We still have to work on our mental strength - learning to play under pressure will be a key thing to learn for us,” the Indian women’s skipper said.