Ever since the Indian women’s semi-final defeat to England in the world cup, Mithali Raj omission from the playing XI Controversy has taken over sporting headlines. The decision, involving Harmanpreet Kaur, coach Ramesh Powar, team management and the selectors, is now being tried to be diffused by the BCCI. It is holding meetings between all the parties involved to get a clear insight at their side of the story.
Meanwhile, the omission of Mithali was justified by captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who said that the decision was taken based solely on the cricketing reasons. Reportedly, during the meeting between the Captain, selection committee and team management, the committee had backed the idea of playing an extra bowler. The management decided to go in with an unchanged squad, one that saw Raj sit out as she did not play in the match due to a knee injury. Coach Ramesh Powar also reportedly supported the decision made by Harmanpreet and didn’t voice any opposition to the move.
However, Mithali Raj has not taken to the decision of being dropped too nicely. She has been lashing out at everyone left, right and center, including CoA member Edulji, Powar and the team management, accusing them of favouritism and an agenda to wreck her career.
The issue has completely blown out of proportion and will take time to clarify with the BCCI and CoA intervening. We, at Tentaran, try to give an insight into whether it’s always beneficial for the team to leave out in-form players and star performers for non-sporting issues.
Mithali’s exclusion from the Indian team for the semi-final has time and again been clarified by the team management to have been taken keeping the team’s fortunes and success in mind. Looking to maintain the same winning combination for their crunch final four encounters, the team management can’t be completely faulted for their strategy. After all in sports, there will be off days for you, days on which things don’t go in your favour and such days result in more questions arising on team selection and tactics than usual.
Had India’s semi-final turned their way, the furor over Raj’s omission may have been much less than now. Rather, it would have been termed a brave decision for which the captain, coach and selectors would have been lauded. Mithali’s unsettled batting spot – facing a number of dot balls in the Powerplay overs and not being a good bet down the order when the team needed some quick runs too could have resulted in her drop.
However, question marks are to be raised over the strategy of the team management keeping in mind Raj’s experience and form in the World Cup. Her knocks of 56 and 51 against Pakistan and Ireland in the women’s T20 should have seen the management repose their faith in her. Not only with the bat but, her experience would have paid dividends on the field as well for the Indian side, helping them adapt to a plan B and be flexible in their planning and bowling and fielding changes. Not going into the match with their best resources at hand proved costly for the Indian team.
There are, however, two facets to every story and one such case that springs to mind is the incident revolving some famous wrestlers. The award-winning wrestlers brought back many laurels for the country. Despite their wrestling talents, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) banned them from attending the Asian Games. The reason given was their skipping the training camp. Later there were reports of indiscipline on their part and anger issues which lead to the WFI pulling the plug on those considered some of India’s best bets in the games.
In what was a decision that hampered India’s fortunes going into the games, it was also the one necessary to be taken to maintain decorum, discipline and a good environment within the team. The decision proved to be a permanent fix to a larger problem at hand, one that presents in our piece an argument that is inclined towards leaving out in-form players for non-sporting reasons for the overall betterment of the team.
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