The Indian women’s cricket team’s decision to drop their senior-most player Mithali Raj for the World T20 semi-final against England on Friday baffled many on social media, even as Harmanpreet Kaur’s side went on to lose the match by eight wickets.
One particular person was so incensed with the decision that she went on a tirade against India captain Kaur on Twitter. The person was Raj’s manager Annisha Gupta who, according to reports, called Harmanpreet a “manipulative, lying, immature, undeserving captain”.
In a series of tweets that have since been deleted, Gupta reportedly said, “Unfortunately, the Indian women’s cricket team believes in politics not sport. After witnessing what Mithali Raj’s experience could do in India vs Ireland, it’s shocking that they went with what pleases Harmanpreet Kaur – a manipulative, lying, immature, undeserving captain.”
In another tweet, she called Harmanpreet a “manipulative, lying cheat”, according to ESPNcricinfo.
Not only have Gupta’s tweets been deleted, her account is missing from Twitter as of Saturday morning. However, Gupta confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that the unverified Twitter account from which the tweets were made did belong to her. She also defended her comments, saying that they came “from the right place”.
“I’d like to say that I don’t know what is going on on the inside but, now that the matches are being telecast, we can see who is performing and who is not,” Gupta told the cricket website. “And we can see the kind of treatment that Mithali has received despite her brilliant performance and despite showing stability and consistency. The kind of treatment she has received is completely uncalled for and there is something deeper than we need to look at than just the statements that have been coming out.”
She added, “There are statements coming out that they wanted to give younger cricketers a chance but you don’t drop your senior-most, most experienced players in a semi-final against a country like England. It goes beyond giving the youngsters a chance.”
Asked if she regretted her comments, Gupta told the website, “Maybe I was a little angry but I think it comes from the right place because I don’t stand for unfair treatment. The kind of favouritism that has been shown is very apparent. I think everybody can see the kind of favouritism that is being shown to certain members of the team.”
Raj had scored back-to-back half-centuries against Ireland and Pakistan in the tournament, but then missed India’s final group match against Australia because of a knee injury. India won that match comprehensively and then decided to go with the same winning combination against England but the move backfired.
However, Harmanpreet later said that she has “no regrets” about the decision to drop Raj as it was taken keeping the team’s interests in mind. “Whatever we decided, we decided for the team. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, no regrets. I’m proud of the way my girls played through the tournament,” Harmanpreet said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Pressed further about the decision in the post-match press conference, Harmanpreet said, “We were going with a winning combination. We did really well against Australia. And that is the reason we just wanted to go with the same combination.”
Against England, India collapsed from 89/2 to 112 all out, which England chased down comfortably.