Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana, India’s captain and vice-captain in the shortest format, have reportedly thrown their weight behind Ramesh Powar, requesting the Board of Control for Cricket in India to allow the former India Test player to continue as the women’s team head coach.

With Powar’s interim tenure already over, the BCCI had recently invited fresh applications for the post of head coach. Given the controversy over Mithali Raj’s exclusion from the recently-concluded ICC Women’s World T20, it was thought that Powar was unlikely to return as the coach.

But both Kaur and Mandhana have written to the BCCI requesting his tenure be extended, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.

(The timeline of the Ramesh Powar - Mithali Raj saga here)

The report has accessed the letters where Kaur and Mandhana both state the decision to drop Raj was unanimously taken, based on cricketing logic while also praising Powar for the work he has done in taking the team forward in the shortest format.

“I am writing to bring it under your notice that how tremendously our team has gone under positive changes in the past few months and has set a benchmark in the world top teams,” Kaur is quoted as saying. “Our defeat in the semi-finals was very disheartening and it brings us all to feel more miserable to see how the controversies has stained our image and questioned the entire cricket fraternity.”

“Ramesh Powar sir not only improved us as players but did motivate us to set targets and challenge our own limits. He has changed the faced of Indian women’s cricket team both technically and strategically. He has inculcated in us the sense of winning,” she added.

Mandhana, who is one of India’s brightest talents in the game, has also called for Powar to continue, citing the team’s record unbeaten run that came to an end against England in the semi-final. She suggested that all parties involved should seek an amicable solution.

“It is important for Indian cricket’s growth that everybody is on the same page and I believe that any difference can be amicably resolved via discussion,” Mandhana is quoted as saying in her letter.

Harmanpreet added that a change of coach at this juncture will hamper the team’s growth.

“Another change of coach will effect our growth and we will have to start from the scratch. And whatever may be the reason for Ramesh Sir’s and Mithali Raj’s conflicts, they should solve it across the table like a family and call it truce. This will provide more sense and security to them and the entire team.”

Both Kaur and Mandhana are understood to have made this request primarily because the next T20 World Cup is just 15 months away, set to be held in Australia.

Powar’s term ended a week after India lost the semifinals of the World T20 to England. The team management dropped Mithali for the knock-out fixture, triggering a huge controversy.

Mithali went on to accuse Powar and COA member Diana Edulji of trying to destroy her and having a bias against her.

Committee of Administrators (COA) chairman Vinod Rai told PTI that Harmanpreet and Smriti have backed Powar to continue as coach till 2021. Powar’s interim tenure ended on November 30 and the BCCI has already invited fresh applications for the job. Powar is free to re-apply.

“Yes, they have written a letter stating that they want Ramesh Powar to continue,” Rai said.

Though Harmanpreet and Smriti are for Powar’s extension, it is learnt that Ekta Bisht and Mansi Joshi are against his reinstatement along with ODI captain Mithali.

(Updated with PTI inputs)