Source: The Hitavada      Date: 24 Dec 2018 10:19:34

AFTER being reinstated as the team member and also as Captain of Indian women’s One Day International (ODI) team, that is scheduled to tour New Zealand soon, Mithali Raj has quite rightly said that it is time to forget the bitterness of the past few months and face the challenge ahead with new vigour. That is a positive side of a sportsperson, who is willing to forget the unsavoury experience of the past and get along well for the assignment ahead.

The controversial decision of the team management to drop her from the team for the semi-final match of World T20 Championship in the West Indies against England, had drawn much flack. The then coach Ramesh Powar’s role in that decision had invited much criticism and it appeared that there was chasm in the team. Mithali Raj, while speaking to newsmen after being reinstated by the selectors, said that her efforts would be to restore amity in the team and ensuring a bonding of a family. That attitude of accommodation is very important for a leader. And Mithali has promised that game will receive the highest priority.

One of the members of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also showed a clear bias against one of the important team members when the team was in the midst of a crucial tournament. A spat with coach Powar cost Mithali her place in the team when her services were most needed. If Mithali had been retained in the team for that semi-final match against England, the result might have been different because she has all long been a prolific scorer and has been one of the players instrumental in taking the Indian women’s team to higher ranking in international cricket.

The Indian cricket team had reached the final of the last World Cup but unfortunately had lost the game by a whisker. Mithali had played an important role in Indian team’s march towards that final. Time and again this Indian women’s team has shown tremendous potential at international level and is being ranked as one of the top teams in world cricket.

Ever since the International Cricket Council (ICC) has taken women’s cricket under its umbrella there has been much welcome and qualitative change. The BCCI too has begun to look at women’s cricket on equal footing by providing regular coaches, making available all facilities and even paypackets. That has made a lot of difference to bringing in qualitative changes. That will draw more young women to the game. Since a new coach has been named in the experienced W. V. Raman, his first task would be to iron out differences, if any, among the players and restore bonhomie in the team to bring focus back on the game.