Mithali Raj suffered an injury in the T20I against Ireland in the group stages and then missed out on the match against Australia. India won the match against Australia and that gave Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and coach Ramesh Powar the courage to leave someone as legendary as Mithali out of the playing XI.
The veteran’s strike rate has not been as exciting as new age T20 players have. But she is India’s highest T20I run-scorer with 2,283 runs in 85 T20Is at a staggering average of 37.42.
Mithali’s experience in tricky conditions was missed in the semi-final against England. Indian batters struggled to score on a pitch where ball gripped on the surface and slogs were as good as throwing one’s wicket.
At the end India were bundled out for 112 with 2 balls to go in the first innings. The middle order batters tried to go for big shots instead of playing it till the end and put on as many runs as possible on the scoreboard.
Here’s what Harmanrpeet had to say in the post-match presentation:
Whatever we decided, it was for the team (on resting Mithali Raj). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. One game doesn’t decide whether we are a good team or a bad team.
The decision of leaving Mithali out of the playing XI did not go down well as England chased down the target with 17 balls to spare.
Twitter was flooded with tweets criticising leaving out the legend
It’s not a pitch where you can hit through the line and fetch boundaries. Mithali Raj would have been ideal on this pitch. Wrong move by India to drop Mithali. But India still good enough to beat ENG.#ICCWWT20
— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) November 23, 2018
Drop Mithali Raj and you dropped the World Cup. This is what happens when you start to play god. •she is tailor made for these kind of pitches and has one of the best records against England . #IndvEng
— aprajita bansal (@aprajita13) November 23, 2018
The best of the lot
Can understand, if you have to, that you leave out Mithali in a 180 game. But on a tough pitch? Then you play your best players and she is that. https://t.co/n3bbSodiC6
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) November 23, 2018
Was Mithali Raj injured or they just decided to drop her? If they dropped her, then it is one of the biggest blunders of Harman’s captaincy. You should never leave out your most experienced player and highest scorer.
— Abinash Panigrahi (@Abinash24x7) November 23, 2018
The Dhoni reference
Dropping the most experienced Player (Mithali Raj) in World Cup is the live example that in case anyone want to drop Dhoni in WC 🙂 !!
— Vidyadhar (@Vidyadhar_Dhoni) November 23, 2018
The popular opinions
India Women lost seven wickets in their last 27 balls today and this is where they needed the experience and calmness of Mithali Raj.#INDvENG
— Umang Pabari (@UPStatsman) November 23, 2018
The pitch required the experience of Mithali Raj. It was not an easy pitch to bat on ( after seeing some of the shots played) . She would have played the anchor role and other could have gone after the ball .
— Sunil Menon (@imsunkrish) November 23, 2018
So are we
— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) November 23, 2018
Mithali also said that this might be her last T20 World Cup. If it is true, it is a sad end to a formidable T20I career.