The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) appointed Hrishikesh Kanitkar as the batting coach of India’s senior women’s team - barely a couple of months before the T20 World Cup in South Africa.
According to a media statement by the BCCI, ‘former head coach’ Ramesh Powar will switch to men’s cricket and report to the National Cricket Academy and work as a spin bowling coach.
With a marquee event lined up just two months ahead, the timing of this decision comes as a surprise, even though this is not the first time such a thing has happened in Indian women’s cricket.
In 2017, just a couple of months before the 50-over World Cup, Purnima Rau was sacked and Tushar Arothe was brought in as the head coach. Even though the team went on to play the final of the tournament, the timing of sacking a coach did draw flak.
Kanitkar has previously worked with the women’s side and was in Sri Lanka with the team. And sources in the BCCI indicate that Kanitkar could be in charge of the team for the home series against Australia, beginning on December 9. However, it needs to be seen whether the Board decides to appoint a head coach for the T20 World Cup.
The decision to appoint Kanitkar as the batting coach, it is believed, was taken because of his past experience of working with the women’s team.
“I see tremendous prospects in this team and we have a good mix of youth and experience. I believe this team is ready for the challenge ahead. We have a few marquee events coming up and it is going to be exciting for the team and myself as batting coach,” Kanitkar said in. statement.
A former India batter, Kanitkar featured in two Tests between 1997 and 2000 and in 34 ODIs. Son of former India wicketkeeper-batter Hemant Kanitkar, he has 10400 first-class runs under his belt and during his long and illustrious domestic career, Kanitkar went on to lead Rajasthan to its consecutive Ranji Trophy titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.
As a coach, he has worked with Goa, Tamil Nadu and was also part of the Rising Pune Supergiant set-up in the IPL. His biggest success, however, came with the India U-19 men’s World Cup which went on to win the title in February this year. He was recently with the India team that toured New Zealand.
During his playing days with the India team, Kanitkar shot to fame because of his last-ball boundary against Pakistan in Dhaka in 1997, which helped his team win the Silver Jubilee Independence Cup.