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Mithali Raj T20 Future Remains Unclear After Delayed Selection Meeting

Devadyuti Das |Cricketnext |February 9, 2019, 7:44 PM IST
Mithali Raj T20 Future Remains Unclear After Delayed Selection Meeting

The Indian women team’s selection committee, that was meant to pick the ODI and T20 squads for their home series against England beginning on February 22, was only able to select the ODI squad on Saturday as there was a delay of nearly two hours in getting the meeting underway.

National selectors Anjali Pendharkar, Lopamudra Banerjee and Sudha Shah arrived at the city hotel where the meeting was meant to take place well before the designated time of 2pm. However, they were made to wait for close to two hours by BCCI secretary Amitabh Chaudhary, who only arrived close to 4pm. The other two selectors, Hemlata Kala and Shashi Gupta, are in New Zealand with the women’s team that will play the final T20I on Sunday.

The meeting was expected to offer some clarity on the future of Mithali Raj’s T20 career. The ODI skipper has not been part of the T20 playing XI since the 2018 women’s World T20 semifinal and has been left out for both the games in the series so far that India have already conceded 0-2. There have been reports that Raj is considering calling it a day in the format.

However, confusion persists as there wasn’t enough time to pick the T20 squad due to the delay in getting the meeting started as the selectors were scheduled to take flights back to their respective destinations. The BCCI doesn’t pay for the women selectors’ stay during selection meeting. It is understood that the T20 squad will be named after the first ODI on February 22.

“Yes, one of the reasons was that we have to catch out flights back. The meeting was delayed for almost two hours. So, we felt we should just pick the ODI squad today,” a selector told CricketNext.

The T20Is begin on March 4 after the three ODIs, to be held on February 22, 25 & 28 are completed.

“We just picked the ODI squad today. It is already too late in New Zealand right now. So, the BCCI secretary felt that it was not right to disturb team and skipper Harmanpreet (Kaur) a day before the final T20 match in Hamilton,” the selector said.

“The ODI team has been doing well under Mithali. There wasn’t much need to tinker with the squad. Regarding the T20 future of Mithali, there is just speculation in the media. She hasn’t communicated anything to us about her plans to quit the T20 format,” the selector added.

The selection meeting lasted barely 15 minutes because there wasn’t much to discuss regarding the ODI squad led by Raj. There was only change to the squad that won the three-match ODI series against New Zealand 2-1 with wicketkeeper R Kalpana replacing Dayalan Hemalatha.

The BCCI secretary said the selectors wanted to see Mithali in action in the first ODI before taking call on her T20 future.

"It was the selectors' opinion that they should get a chance to watch Mithali bat in the first ODI in Mumbai before a call could be taken about her T20 future. That's why it was decided to delay selection of T20 squad to after the first ODI," Chaudhary told CricketNext.

The selectors also picked the Board President’s XI squad, which will be led by opener Smriti Mandhana, to play a one-day warm-up game prior to the ODI series in Mumbai on 18th February.

India women ODI squad: Mithali Raj (Captain), Jhulan Goswami, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma, Taniya Bhatia (wicket-keeper), R Kalpana (wicket-keeper), Mona Meshram, Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Shikha Pandey, Mansi Joshi, Punam Raut.

Board President’s XI: Smriti Mandhana (Captain), Veda Krishnamurthy, Devika Vaidya, S Meghana, Bharati Fulmali, Komal Zanzad, R Kalpana, Priya Punia, Harleen Deol, Reemalaxmi Ekka, Manali Dakshini, Minnu Mani, Tanuja Kanwar.

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