The Indian women's team suffered a whitewash at the hands of the New Zealand women's team in the three-match T20I series and after Mithali Raj failed to take India home in the final match, former coach Ramesh Powar's decision of dropping her has come back into the limelight.
Powar was the coach of the Indian women's team in Women's World T20 last year where he decided to drop Mithali for the semifinal clash against England which India lost after a batting collapse. This created a massive controversy that showed the dark side of Indian cricket. There was plenty of mudslinging from both parties calling each other selfish and alleging each other of having ulterior motives. The incident saw Mithali's manager get involved and also CoA member Diana Edulji who brought up the Anil Kumble-Virat Kohli saga.
Since then, Powar's contract for the coach's position was not renewed even though cricketers Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana reportedly wanted him to be reappointed. WV Raman is now the coach of the 'Women in Blue' but Mithali continued to sit out of the team until the dead rubber against the White Ferns.
"I don't know what exactly is happening, but he (Raman) did what exactly I did. The coach must be having some vision about how to take this team forward. You can't play forever. As a coach and captain, or the team management, you need to take a call about how to take the team forward," Powar told TOI on February 9 on the issue of Mithali not being a part of India's T20 vision.
Powar spoke about his vision when he dropped Mithali in the T20 World Cup last year and said that the new coach has the same vision. He also said that he hopes Raman isn't treated with the same backlash he faced for thinking ahead.
"He's doing the same thing. He's thinking ahead. There's a vision. Everyone has a vision. A coach has to think about how to take his team forward. When I took this decision, I got a lot of criticism for it. I hope WV (Raman) gets a fair deal, and people don't get negative about it, and look at the bigger picture."
"He's a newly-appointed coach. He needs some time to think about how he wants to take the team forward. He has started his vision. There's no option but to think ahead. It's not about Mithali, it's about forging a combination which you think is right. He must be planning to build a team for the next T20 World Cup," Powar opined.
Powar said that his coaching philosophy is result-oriented and only talent matters. He added that he did not want to appease anyone and only those who deserved to play, got into the team.
"I've been coached by the likes of (Ramakant) Achrekar and Vasu (Paranjpe) sir. They backed talent which deserved to be there. I try to do my job honestly, just like them. If I try to see what would benefit me, then I wouldn't be a good coach. I have to think what's in the benefit of the team now, and in two years' time."
"If I wanted to be the India women's team coach forever, I would have looked to maintain a good rapport with all the senior players - Mithali, Harmanpreet (Kaur) and Smriti (Mandhana). But that isn't in my nature. I'm a result-oriented person, and for that, you have to go through a process. You've to take some tough calls at times."
Powar may have indirectly mentioned that Mithali does not deserve to play T20 cricket for her country any longer and his claim may not be altogether misplaced. The captain of the ODI team did not feature in the first two matches and in the dead rubber came in to bat at number 5 with the required run rate around 7.5. But she batted a strike rate of 120 and failed to take India home as New Zealand won the game by 2 runs.