Mithali Raj ‘saddened’ as World T20 row escalates

Mithali Raj 'saddened' as World T20 row escalates

NEW DELHI: India cricket star Mithali Raj said Thursday she was “deeply saddened” by accusations that she threw tantrums and threatened to quit before being controversially dropped during the Twenty20 World Cup.

Raj, the highest run scorer in the women’s international game and still India’s one-day captain, was left out of the squad for last week’s semi-final loss to England, triggering a high-profile row with team staff.

Coach Ramesh Powar blasted the veteran batswoman for “blackmailing” officials, amid reports she had demanded to choose her own batting position earlier in the tournament.

“I’m deeply saddened and hurt by the aspersions cast on me. My commitment to the game and 20yrs of playing for my country,” Raj tweeted Thursday.

“The hard work, sweat, in vain. Today, my patriotism doubted, my skill set questioned and all the mudslinging — it’s the darkest day of my life.”

Raj hit two straight half-centuries at the tournament in the West Indies before missing India’s last group game against Australia due to a knee injury.

She was declared fit on the eve of the England semi-final but selectors declined to bring her back. T20 captain, Harmanpreet Kaur, said selectors opted to stay with the “winning combination”.

Raj, 35, sent a fiery letter to India’s cricket board singling out Powar and other officials, accusing them of bias and claiming they were trying to destroy her career.

Powar briefed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Wednesday about the behind-the-scenes tumult at the T20 tournament.

“I hope Mithali stops blackmailing, pressurising coaches and putting her interest first than the team,” Powar wrote in a 10-page post-tournament brief for the BCCI, seen by AFP.

“I was saddened by her attitude and it gave me an impression that Mithali Raj comes first and then India. She threw a lot of tantrums and created a lot of chaos.”

The BCCI is yet to comment on the issue.