Indian women’s T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur has spoken out about the anguish she felt in the aftermath of the controversy which overtook the team in the aftermath of India’s World T20 exit over the exclusion of senior player Mithali Raj. She said she felt so pained over the “false allegations” leveled at her that she wanted to quit international cricket for a while.
“I had almost made up my mind to let my parents know that I wanted to take a break. I don’t want to hold on to a spot in the Indian team just because I am a senior player. I wanted to get away from cricket. Whatever happened around the team before that was immensely draining for me. Some of the things said were so far from reality that I felt, “I need to step away from this madness for a while.” I’m here to play cricket,” Harmanpreet told ESPNCricinfo.
The controversy arose after India were defeated by England in the World T20 semi-final in November 2018, collapsing from 89/2 to 112 all out. Mithali Raj, whose fielding and strike rate had been under the glare despite consistently piling on runs in the tournament, was excluded from the team.
Harmanpreet backed the decision to leave out Mithali in the press conference after the match, saying the team management had taken a collective decision to “stick with the winning combination”.
The matter blew up the day after India’s defeat, with Raj’s manager Annisha Gupta calling Harmanpreet a “manipulative, lying, immature, undeserving captain” in a series of tweets.
Speaking about the episode which took a toll on the Indian dressing room last November, Harmanpreet said, “After coming from the West Indies, I was even considering only playing in the overseas leagues and then making my way back into the Indian team. I spent hours alone, asking myself, “Why do I play sport?” “Because I enjoy it, because playing cricket is the only thing I’ve ever done in life.”