Indian cricketer Mithali Raj accuses coach Ramesh Powar of biased behaviour in a letter to BCCI

While several cricket fans questioned the decision to exclude Mithali Raj in the World T20 semi-final against England, she has written a letter to BCCI and accused coach Ramesh Powar of biased behaviour. The letter also said that Mithali was among the last to get a hit out in the nets, a clear sign "that he had already made up his mind that he didn't want to play me in the semis."

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Indian ODI captain and veteran cricket player Mithali Raj has accused the women’s cricket team coach Ramesh Powar of humiliating her and discriminating her during the Indian Team’s World T20 campaign in West Indies this year which ended with a semifinal exit which Raj wasn’t a part of.

As per the letter by Mithali to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) CEO Rahul Johri and general manager Saba Karim, Mithali told that her exclusion from the semifinal against England was ‘baffling and hurtful’ and her main issue was the coach’s behaviour in the lead up match in Antigua.

My issues with the coach started immediately as we landed in the West Indies. At first, there were small signs that his behaviour towards me was unfair and discriminatory but I did not bother much about it," the letter revealed.

She explained that she did not resist to some of Powar’s decisions like batting out of her usual opening position, as a reverence for the team’s best interest.

However, she confessed in the letter that it was later when the selectors intervened, she was restored back to her opening position. And after that, she delivered two back-to-back fifties against Pakistan and Ireland which earned her the Player of the Match award.

"Not having played middle order in recent times and without practice still, I agreed for the greater cause of the team. For me, team comes ahead of anything. After the game, it was evident that the opening did not work as the team was 3/38 after power-play and yet in the team meeting the next day he informed me that we are going with the same opening pair as against New Zealand. And he also praised the openers despite them not succeeding.

This left me completely shocked as against Pakistan there was no requirement of strengthening the middle order and also I have a great record against them. This was a match we had to win. I immediately reached out to the selectors and upon their intervention, he told me just before the game at breakfast that I was opening. I performed well in the game and we cruised to victory. But instead of saying any words of encouragement it appeared he was out there to prove a point and from there on his behaviour changed dramatically towards me and really caused a lot of stress in the middle of one of the most important tournaments for us."

She accused that the things got worse when she sought the team manager’s help to talk to Powar who was completely ignoring Mithali during the net sessions. She offered several suggestions during the meeting, including trying out youngsters at the opening position during the match against Ireland. However, after the meeting, Mithali, who was down with a bruised knee and feverish, stated that she was asked not to turn up to the ground for the game against Australia.

"In the evening after the team meeting before the Australia game, Ramesh rings up in my room and instructs me not to come to the ground as the media will be there... I was told I was not to be with my own team in one of our biggest games. I was shell-shocked. I spoke to the manager immediately and told her that I am not seriously injured and only seriously sick and that I want to come and watch my team play. She agreed and told me to come."

"But I received a text from Ramesh in a few minutes after my conversation with the manager wherein he told me not to step out of the dressing room. I found it strange why is he getting involved when it was purely the managers' and physio's call. When we won the Australia game Ramesh sent a word across with a teammate to call me down to the dugout so that I can join the team for a victory lap. It was strange because right through the match I had been put under house arrest and was never allowed to leave the dressing room."

However, after reaching Antigua three days prior to the semifinal match, India had only one scheduled fielding session. Meanwhile, Powar took five players for extra practice and upon hearing about the same, Mithali stated that she too wanted to practice as she hadn’t batted for quite a few days. Upon which, the letter claims that there was no reply and she was asked to join later with the whole team.

She further stated that she was informed about her exclusion just a few moments prior to the toss,

"It is when Harman walked to toss, he [Powar] came running to me and said that they were going with the same team. It meant the whole team knew who were playing and it was just me who was not aware.”

Meanwhile, Mithali also criticised the Committee of Administrators (CoA) member Diana Edulji whom she said that knew about the entire plan to bench her during the semifinal and did not support her.

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