The decision to bench legendary Mithali Raj in the all-important ICC Women's World T20 semi-final against England, which India lost by eight wickets, has become a full-blown controversy with the former India captain's manager lashing out at skipper Harmanpreet Kaur.
Raj's manager Annisha Gupta called Harmanpreet a "manipulative, lying, immature, undeserving captain" and further went on to say that the women's team believed in "politics not sport".
"Unfortunately @BCCIWomen believes in politics not sport. After witnessing what @M_Raj03 's experience could do in IndvIre it's shocking that they went with what pleases @ImHarmanpreet -a manipulative, lying, immature, undeserving captain," Annisha's tweet read.
The unverified Twitter account from which the tweets were posted was deleted. But according to a report in ESPNCricinfo, Gupta had confirmed that the tweets were by her, and defended her statements by saying that the criticism came "from the right place".
"I'd like to say that I don't know what is going on on the inside but, now that the matches are being telecast, we can see who is performing and who is not," Gupta told ESPNcricinfo.
"And we can see the kind of treatment that Mithali has received despite her brilliant performance and despite showing stability and consistency. The kind of treatment she has received is completely uncalled for and there is something deeper than we need to look at than just the statements that have been coming out.
"There are statements coming out that they wanted to give younger cricketers a chance but you don't drop your senior-most, most experienced players in a semi-final against a country like England. It goes beyond giving the youngsters a chance."
"Maybe I was a little angry but I think it comes from the right place because I don't stand for unfair treatment. The kind of favouritism that has been shown is very apparent. I think everybody can see the kind of favouritism that is being shown to certain members of the team," Annisha said.
Annisha's reaction came after Harmanpreet had said in the post-match presentation on Friday that she had "no regrets" in leaving out Mithali from the playing XI at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium at North Sound in Antigua.
Mithali is India's highest scorer in the shortest format with 2,283 T20I runs. She played two matches in the tournament, hitting fifties in both the matches. But India opted to field an unchanged XI in the semi-final. In their final Group B match, India defeated three-time champions Australia without Raj.
On a pitch that demanded the technical acumen of Mithali, and where stroke play wasn't the easiest way to approach, the Indian team management's ploy of excluding the former skipper cost it dear, which was evident from the fact that the last seven Indian wickets fell for mere 23 runs before folding for a meagre 112.
Eventually, India not only lost the affair but also had to return home empty-handed.
(With Agency inputs)
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