Ramesh Powar has received a vote of confidence from Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana, with both writing to the BCCI expressing their admiration for and support of him as coach.
Powar, the former off-spinner, was appointed coach of India Women on an interim capacity, the deal running till the end of November.
The BCCI chose not to extend his contract despite India making it to the semi-final of the Women’s World T20 2018 after winning all their four group games, including against top teams like New Zealand and Australia.
The reason for the BCCI’s decision, it was widely assumed, was the much-publicised war of words between Powar and Mithali Raj, the iconic batter, who scored half-centuries in both her innings at the World T20 but was left out of the semi-final against England, which India lost to crash out of the tournament.
Raj accused Powar of insulting and humiliating her, while Powar asked the veteran batter to stop blackmailing coaches and support staffers and putting pressure on them.
In the latest update, coming in the wake of the BCCI inviting applications for the position – to which Powar can reapply – Kaur and Mandhana, the captain and vice-captain of the T20I team, have written separate letters to the BCCI throwing their support behind Powar.
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
Kaur’s letter, accessed by sections of the Indian media, said, “I am writing to bring it under your notice that how tremendously our team has gone under positive changes in the past few months and has set a benchmark in the world’s top teams. Our defeat in the semi-finals was very disheartening and it brings us all to feel more miserable to see how the controversies has stained our image and questioned the entire cricket fraternity.
“Ramesh Powar not only improved us as players but did motivate us to set targets and challenge our own limits. He has changed the face of Indian women’s cricket team both technically and strategically. He has inculcated in us the sense of winning. [sic]”
Raj missed the final group game against Australia with an injury, but was fit for the semi-final. The team, however, chose to stick to the combination that had beaten Australia, the eventual champions.
“The decision was entirely based on the cricketing logics and observations from the past. Keeping in mind the need of the hour, me, Smriti, selector Sudha Shah and the coach together in the presence of our manager felt that we should go ahead with the winning combination,” said Kaur’s letter.
“Cutting the conversation short, I, as the T20 captain and ODI vice-captain is appealing before you to allow Powar to further continue as our team coach. There are hardly 15 months for the next T20 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.”
Mandhana echoed Kaur’s thoughts, writing, “It is important for Indian cricket’s growth that everybody is on the same page and I believe that any difference can be amicably resolved via discussion.”