Hrishikesh Kanitkar appointed India Women's batting coach; Ramesh Powar sacked
The BCCI, on Monday, appointed Hrishikesh Kanitkar as the batting coach of the Indian women's cricket team. Kanitkar, a former Indian batter, has joined the team ahead of the five-T20I series against Australia, starting December 9. Meanwhile, Ramesh Powar has been removed from his role as head coach (women's team). He will work as a spin-bowling coach (men's cricket) at the National Cricket Academy.
Why does this story matter?
- Powar's tenure as the head coach of the India women's team ends over two months before the T20 World Cup in South Africa.
- While the BCCI did not state the reason to remove Powar, it clarified that his switch to men's cricket is a part of a "restructuring module".
- This leaves India Women without a head coach for the Australia T20I series at home.
Kantikar will head India Women's support staff for now
An ESPNcricinfo report suggested that batting coach Kantikar will head Team India's support staff for now. Notably, Kanitkar was with the men's side during their white-ball tour of New Zealand in a similar capacity. He represented India in two Tests and 34 ODIs between 1997 and 2000. The former left-handed batter finished over 10,000 runs in First-Class cricket.
Achievements of Kantikar
Kantikar was the head coach of India's Under-19 side, which won the tournament in the Caribbean. The former Indian batter has also worked as the coach of Tamil Nadu. He was a player-cum-mentor at Rajasthan toward his career's end. Kanitkar also helped in the redevelopment of NCA under the current head coach of the Indian men's side, Rahul Dravid.
A surprise removal ahead of Women's T20 WC?
The removal of Powar, who took over as India Women coach in May 2021, comes as a surprise. In October, the Indian women won their seventh Asia Cup title under him. Earlier, India Women registered their first-ever white-ball series win in England (won the ODI series 3-0). At the Commonwealth Games (CWG), India finished as the silver medalists, losing the final to Australia.
Powar's second stint as head coach
This was Powar's second stint as head coach with India Women, having replaced WV Raman last year. In 2018, the former had this role for five months, a tenure that ended following a fallout with former captain Mithali Raj. The latter had accused Powar of discrimination and humiliation. Mithali admitted that she was hurt after being benched for the T20 WC semi-final.
When Mithali accused Powar of discrimination
In November 2018, Mithali accused coach Powar of discrimination and bias. In a letter addressed to the BCCI, the former had stated that Powar humiliated her during the T20 World Cup in West Indies. Mithali added that Powar made her feel like an "outcast". Powar clarified that she was dropped from the XI as the management wanted to go ahead with the winning combination.
What next for Team India?
As stated, India Women will lock horns with Australia in a five-match T20I series at home in December. The Women in Blue will then travel to South Africa for a tri-series, also involving West Indies. South Africa will also host the Women's T20 World Cup in Australia. The Indian team management would want to zero in on a new head coach.