Former India bowler Amita Sharma, a close friend and contemporary of Mithali Raj since the early 2000, came out in support of the India ODI skipper amid the mud-slinging that rocked women’s cricket in the ICC World T20 in the Caribbean.
On Wednesday, India women’s team coach Ramesh Powar wrote a letter to the BCCI highlighting Mithali’s shortcomings and explaining the reason behind her semifinal axe against England.
One part of the letter accused the legendary batsman of blackmailing, threatening (to quit) and creating groups within the team. “After Pakistan game, she was moving around with an attitude, making her own group with selected few players sitting away from the team. As head coach, I was very disappointed and saddened to see a legend like her dividing a team into two groups,” he stated in the letter, which was a response to the e-mail the cricketer had sent to the board officials.
READ | Powar questions Mithali’s skills, fitness and behaviour
Mithali had revealed how she felt insulted by Powar's attitude at the training sessions.
Amita has a different take on the issue. “I think, somewhere, the coach read her wrong. She was always the silent kind. She never spoke to too many people in the team, barely two or three. That’s her nature. She is reserved. She spends a lot of time on her own, she never spoke much and would read books, even before batting.
“It is not in Mitu’s nature to go and speak to everyone in the team. She has been like this from the start. I know her for 20 years now. I know her in and out. There has been no change in her behaviour. It is nothing new,” she told Sportstar on Thursday.
“She is a team player, but she is not the kind who would personally go and talk to every member in the team. When necessary, she would give pep talks, talk about batting and other things.”
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Amita and Mithali were part of the 2005 World Cup side that finished runner-up to Australia.
The medium pacer — who called it a day in 2014 — feels Powar is trying his best to justify his decision to drop Mithali in the semifinal.
“They dropped her in the semifinal, now they had to come up with some allegation to justify their action. Now suddenly, after 18 years or so, you are saying she is a player who plays for herself and not the team. Firstly, I can’t think of dropping a player like her in an important semifinal match. And I don’t remember any incident involving Mitu in the past where she would threaten people,” Amita, a veteran of 116 ODIs, said.
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Powar had also questioned Mithali’s skills, that involved her batting strike-rate in T20Is. “From 2007 when T20I was launched, till now, Mithali has maintained her strike-rate. Every player, be it a bowler or a batsman, has their own style. There are hitters and then, there are skillful players. She is skillful.
“Now they are saying she is batting slow and all, it is all wrong. She used to bat the same way before also, rather I feel she has improved in T20I with experience. She is mentally better prepared,” Amita refuted.
Amita feels Mithali deserves to play the shortest format along with the ODIs.