Legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar has come out in defence of Mithali Raj after she shot off an explosive letter to the BCCI complaining of humiliating treatment by coach Ramesh Powar and Diana Edulji of the BCCI.
Gavaskar told India Today, “I feel sorry for Mithali. She has a very good point. She has served Indian cricket for 20 years. She scored runs, she won player of the match in both matches (she played at the World T20).”
Sunil Gavaskar was referring to Mithali’s performance against Pakistan and Ireland before the semi-final against England. Mithali had scored two back-to-back 50s in those matches and was declared Player of Match in both the games before being asked to sit out during the crucial semi-final against England. India lost the game by 8 wickets and was kicked out of the competition.
Gavaskar further said, “She was injured for one game but fit for the next game. Just convert this situation into the men’s game. If you had a Virat Kohli who was injured for one game and then is fit for the knockout, will you leave him out? You have to pick your best player for the knockouts. You needed the experience and expertise of Mithali Raj.”
Earlier today, Powar was grilled by the BCCI on the reason why Mithali was left out of the semi-final. He reportedly said in his defence that her strike-rate wasn’t impressive. The board officials then asked him if Mithali’s strike rate in the previous two matches had become an issue. Powar was left stuck for an answer, said a source in the board.
Gavaskar, according to news agency PTI, it was difficult to comment on Powar’s role from a distance but made it clear that the reason given for Mithali’s dropping was wrong.
He said, “What happened with Powar. It is very difficult to comment on that from here. but it’s difficult to accept whatever the reason was. They said they wanted to stick with the same team, I don’t think that’s a good enough excuse. You can’t drop someone like Mithali Raj.”
Powar was appointed as the interim coach of the national women’s team. His term comes to an end on Friday. It’s highly unlikely that he will be given another term even when the board seeks fresh applications for the role.