Indian women’s cricket team skipper Harmanpreet Kaur on Thursday denied any fallout with Ramesh Powar who has been sacked as the head coach with less than two months to go for the T20 World Cup.
In a repeat of the 2018 saga when Powar was replaced as the head coach after being at loggerheads with then captain Mithali Raj, the former India spinner once again faced the axe and was shunted to the National Cricket Academy, reportedly on request of Harmanpreet.
Harmanpreet, however, categorically denied the reports of rift and termed it a “decision" taken by the BCCI.
“Well, it’s nothing like that. I’ve always enjoyed working with Ramesh sir whenever I got an opportunity. We have learnt a lot from him and grown as a team," she said on the eve of their five-match T20I series against Australia.
“It’s the BCCI’s decision who’s moved to NCA. He will work there as the spin coach, and whenever we’ll go to NCA, Ramesh sir is always available."
The board has now roped in Hrishikesh Kanitkar as the batting coach of the team and he will be at the helm for the series against Australia.
In ‘right hands’
Former India allrounder Kanitkar was in charge when they won a series in Sri Lanka and Harmanpreet said he’s the “apt candidate" for the job and that the team is in the right hands.
Hailing his “calmness", she said: “We had a very good experience with him when we were in Sri Lanka.
“He was always available whenever it’s needed. He brings a lot of experience to the team. We are only looking forward and how we proceed further. We are in right hands. We are fully okay with whatever the decision BCCI is taking.
“He’s very calm. We needed someone who can give that calmness on the field. You would have seen that in the past at a crucial time, the girls need that support, someone who can guide with calmness and tell us what and how to do with some clear thoughts. We had experienced that in Sri Lanka."
She further said the team was very excited when they got to know that Kanitkar was coming on board.
“It would have been difficult if it was a new coach, but we have already worked with Hrishi sir.
“I don’t think there will be any problem. If a new coach would have come we would have to explain a lot of things, how we are working.
“He already knew the type of work we were doing. I don’t think there would be any major changes."
“When we got to know that he’s coming on board, the team got a lot positivity because we really liked the way he worked with us in Sri Lanka."
She recalled how Kanitkar played an important role in the series win in Sri Lanka, after the 50-over World Cup debacle earlier this year.
“We discussed with him how to achieve our targets and we spoke about setting those small targets. He helped us in terms of how to execute plans.
“There were times on that tour when we lost early wickets, but we bounced back and scored big totals. He helped us in understanding how to bat in those circumstances."
Pay equity a huge motivation
The Indian skipper also spoke on the BCCI’s decision to bring in pay equity which means the centrally-contracted men and women players would get the same match fee.
As per the new policy, the women players will now get Rs 15 lakh per Test, Rs 6 lakh for an ODI and Rs 3 lakh for a T20I. The new pay structure will come into effect from the series against Australia.
“It’s an outstanding decision taken by the BCCI. Equal pay is something that brings a lot of motivation to the current players and the upcoming stars.
“It gives a lot of responsibility; we know many people are watching us whenever we go out and play. We want to give our 100 per cent."
“Definitely this was the first step. I’m sure there would be many more to come. I’m sure the BCCI must be thinking about (equal pay) in domestic cricket as well," Harmanpreet said.
“Domestic cricket is very important. Now, the Women’s IPL is coming, and all those things will be important for domestic cricketers. There is money involved, and with that we will get a lot of good domestic matches. Things will come to you. We just need to perform."
Next target, a global title
Harmanpreet said their main objective is to win an ICC global title which has been missing from their trophy cabinet.
“We have to play good cricket now, taking a lot of responsibility as a team. Every tournament, we are reaching finals, but we are yet to win that big trophy. But the way we are playing, a lot of things have changed in the country."
Sneh Rana has been ignored for the series, but the Indian captain said she’s still on the radar and can make a comeback with a good show in the domestic circuit.
“The members of the team have performed well, especially the new girls have done well in the domestic circuit. Anjali took the highest wickets and then other players have done really well, selections depend on your performance.
“Rana and others are good players, whenever they perform, they will come back," she concluded.
India will play the first two T20Is at the DY Patil stadium on December 9 and 11, before moving to CCI for the remaining three fixtures on December 14, 17 and 20.
The series will be a good preparation for the T20 World Cup in South Africa, starting February 10.