Tushar Arothe contradicts Edulji statement on team selection

Tushar Arothe said CoA member Diana Edulji, who had defended the decision to drop Mithali Raj for the World T20 semifinal, had questioned dropping Pooja Vastrakar for the Asia Cup final in June.

Mithali Raj and then coach Tushar Arothe speaking to the media ahead of the South Africa tour in January.   -  Vivek Bendre

After Diana Edulji, a member of the committee of administrators looking after the management of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said a decision by the team management cannot be questioned, former coach Tushar Arothe on Tuesday said Edulji herself had questioned a similar decision earlier in the year.

Mithali Raj, India’s One-Day International captain, was dropped from the playing XI in the semifinals of the Women’s T20 World Cup on Friday, a match India lost. In a letter to the BCCI earlier on Tuesday, Raj wrote to the BCCI accusing Edulji of bias and stating that “a few people in power are out to destroy” her, a day after meeting Rahul Johri, the BCCI’s chief executive officer, and Syed Saba Karim, its general manager for cricket operations.

ALSO READ: Mithali Raj complains of power abuse, writes to BCCI

“Diana says that (dropping Raj) is the team management’s decision, so one cannot question (it). When we lost in the Asia Cup final, Pooja (Vastrakar) did not play. The decision was taken by the team management. But later in a meeting in Mumbai, she asked me why Vastrakar was dropped? I told her that it was the decision of the team management,” said Arothe, who guided the Indian team to the final of the Women’s World Cup last year and stepped down as coach in June.

India lost the Asia Cup final in June to Bangladesh.

“(Captain) Harmanpreet (Kaur) was there, Smriti (Mandhana) was there along with selector (Shashi Gupta), and we took a unanimous decision. Diana said, ‘No, you should not have dropped Pooja.’ I even explained that the reason we dropped Pooja was because she would drop catches in crucial matches,” he said.

“I told her (Diana) the reason. She was like, ‘You should not have dropped her. How could you drop her?’ Now, she is saying that the team management’s decision cannot be questioned. How can you change versions so soon?” Arothe said, adding: “How could she question the team decisions (then)? Saba Karim and Rahul Johri were also there when Diana asked me this.”

Arothe said there are “two or three big fishes” in the Indian team and all of them want to pull strings their way. “One or two players were not happy with me. Harman was not happy. If players were not happy, then what was the point of continuing? Hence, I quit.”

ALSO READ: Mithali, Harmanpreet meet Johri, Karim

“Mithali has always been normal with me. I have never had issues with Mithali and Jhulan (Goswami). But the sad thing is, Harman does not know what she was talking about. I was surprised to see her saying ‘no regrets’ for dropping Mithali. That was the worst thing. She should not have said that. I could make out from Mithali’s face that something big was going on,” Arothe said.

Arothe, who coached the national side for a little over a year and had been summoned by the BCCI after some players complained against him, said he is disheartened with the way things are going. “These people play more politics than cricket. They are messing it up. Things were going fine. Now everything has changed. It is a bad thing for India’s women’s cricket,” he said.

Edulji did not respond to repeated phone calls and text messages seeking comment.