A year after unceremonious exit, Purnima Rau returns to coaching

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has appointed Purnima Rau as the senior women’s team coach for Sikkim.

Purnima Rau to resume her coaching career in the northeast.   -  Raju V.

Just a couple of months before the Women’s World Cup last year, Purnima Rau was unceremoniously shown the exit as India’s women’s chief coach. She was replaced by Tushar Arothe, who helped India reach the World Cup final.

But a little more than a year later, Rau is back to where she belongs. With nine new teams participating in the first-class tournaments this season, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has appointed Rau as the senior women’s team coach for Sikkim.

In a letter to the association late on Tuesday, the Board has confirmed that Rau will be looking after the senior women’s team this season, while local cricketer, Kikam Bhutia, will be working as the U-19 and U-23 women’s team coach.

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After being replaced as the coach last year, Rau has been running her own organic farm in Andhra Pradesh for the last one year. And she admits that she was initially not too keen on returning to the coaching circuit. But she was convinced about the ‘new challenge’ after a discussion with BCCI’s AGM, K.V.P Rao. “It just took me about two hours to make up my mind and I was back as a coach,” Rau told Sportstar.

But now that she is back, Rau wants to make the most of it. “I am excited that the girls from northeast will be getting an opportunity to play at the higher level. There will be fresh blood in the system and that’s a good thing for the game. That’s why I agreed to be back as a coach,” the former India captain said.

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Having worked with the Indian team for a good amount of time, Rau admits that the pressure will be more on the new teams like Sikkim. But she is confident that the girls can pull it off. “There will be more pressure on the new teams for sure. It is going to take some time for them to settle down. It is a learning process,” she said.

With northeastern states having a tradition of playing different sports, Rau believes that that athleticism will help the team go far. “They are into football, softball and other sports. I am sure we are going to have more athletic girls in the team. The younger generation will benefit from it,” Rau said.

While Rau will look after the senior women’s team, the BCCI has also named former Delhi cricketer, Sanjeev Sharma, as the senior men’s coach.

Meanwhile, former Karnataka coach P.V. Shashikanth has been named the U-23 coach. Shashikanth, who has a fair experience of handling star-studded senior teams like Karnataka, has written to the Board requesting it to consider him for a senior team coaching role.

Sikkim’s coaching staff

Sanjeev Sharma (senior men’s coach), PV Shashikanth (U-23 men’s coach), Lakpa Chhetri (U-19 men’s coach), Prakash Lama (U-16 men’s coach), Purnima Rau (senior women’s coach), Kikam Bhutia (U-19 and U-23 coach)