The Indian women’s cricket team has seen some turmoil of late on account of disagreements between Mithali Raj and coach Ramesh Powar. With the Powar’s tenure as coach coming to an end on 30th November, more differences in the team have come out in the open. Powar’s role as coach ended a week after India lost to England in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup. Mithali was dropped for that match, a move that led to the ex-captain accusing Powar and CoA member Diana Edulji of trying to “destroy” her and being biased against her. Powar accused Mithali of threatening to retire midway during the tournament after she was denied the opener’s slot.
Now, captain Harmanpreet Kaur and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana have said they’re in favour of Powar continuing as coach till 2021. Meanwhile, PTI has reported that Ekta Bisht, Mansi Joshi and Mithali Raj are opposed to the idea.
Committee of Administrators chairman Vinod Rai said Harmanpreet and Smriti “have written a letter stating that they want Ramesh Powar to continue.” Kaur wrote in support of Powar - “...Ramesh Powar not only improved us as players but motivate(d) us to set targets and challenge our own limits. He has changed the face of (the) Indian women's cricket team both technically and strategically.” She also addressed the decision to drop Mithali Raj. Kaur wrote, “With regard to the exclusion of Mithali Raj...Ramesh Powar was not single-handedly responsible. The decision was entirely based on...cricketing logic... and observations from the past. Keeping in mind the need of the hour...me, Smriti, the selector (Sudha Shah) and the coach, together, in the presence of our manager felt...we should go ahead with the winning combination...I believe it should have come to your understanding that the intent was not personal but entirely...for the welfare of the team.”
Vice-captain Smriti Mandhana wrote, “Since the introduction of Powar, he along with the support staff has boosted our confidence as a team, which has helped us win 14 consecutive T20 matches.”
Kaur added, “Another change of coach will affect our growth and we will have to start from...scratch...whatever...be the reason for Ramesh Sir's and Mithali Raj's conflicts, they should solve it across the table like a family and call...(a) truce.”
The BCCI is considering applications for the role of coach of the women’s team, and PTI reported that Ramesh Powar is also free to apply once more.
In football news, Croatian player Luka Modric won the 2018 Ballon d'Or on Monday, breaking the 10-year stranglehold that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi had on the sporting honour.
Modric won the award despite strong competition from French players who were part of the 2018 World Cup winning squad. Speaking at the ceremony in Paris, 33-year-old Modric said, “As a kid we all have dreams. My dream was to play for a big club and win important trophies. The Ballon d'Or was more than just a dream for me and it is really an honour and a privilege to hold this trophy.”
Modric has had a remarkable year. He starred in Real Madrid’s triumph in the Champions League and took Croatia to the final of the World Cup. He was adjudged the
best player at the World Cup and awarded the Golden Ball. He was chosen as UEFA’s player of the season and was also announced as the winner of FIFA’s best player award in September.
Ronaldo was in second place while Frenchman Antoine Griezmann finished third. Messi was at number five.
In a big step for women’s football, a women's Ballon d'Or was awarded for the first time. Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg, who plays for Lyon, was the winner of the prestigious award. The prolific Hegerberg, Lyon's top scorer with 15 goals in the Champion's League last season, helped the French club win a third successive Champions League title. She edged past Danish player Pernille Harder to win the award. Hegerberg said, “I am touched and very proud, for women's football, for myself, for the club. I share this with Olympique Lyonnais, my teammates, the staff...it's incredible, a great day for women's football and a big step forward.”
Hegerberg has been compared to Ronaldo and Messi due to her prolific goal scoring. She said, “I think the fact I scored 54 goals last season and 53 goals this year — it's a lot of goals in one year. I know it's difficult to score 50 goals every season. That is where I set the bar.”
There was also a controversy after Hegerberg was asked to twerk on stage by host Martin Solveig. Hegerberg appeared embarrassed and rejected the request. Hegerberg later said: "He came to see me after and apologised. The Ballon d'Or is the most important thing."
French teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe won the Kopa Trophy for the best young player.
The Indian cricket team’s tour of Australia is gathering steam. Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting has suggested that the current Australian team should not be bullied by Virat Kohli.
Asked if he thinks Kohli will bait Australia during the Test series, Ponting replied, “Well, he might…with someone like him who likes to score freely, he has obviously got a big ego, there are other things you can do. Don't let him score boundaries early on. Try and bowl tight consistent stuff.”
Ponting said, “I don't necessarily believe that he is someone you shouldn't try to get under his skin. I have seen him rattled. Mitchell Johnson definitely rattled him a few times with some good hostile bowling and some good hostile body language around him. So, I would not sit back and let anyone bully.”
He added that it would be "rubbish" if the current side don’t play aggressive cricket. He said, “Australian teams of the past have always had (a) few words to say but it was always on the back of some good hostile bowling, you can't do without it. It is rubbish otherwise. You have to able to impose yourself on the game in a way other than using your mouth.”
Veteran Indian table tennis player Sharath Kamal has broken into the top 30 of ITTF rankings while G Sathiyan achieved a career-best 31st rank on Monday.
Kamal was ranked 31 in October and November, and finally broke into the top 30 this month. Sharath won a men's team bronze at the 2018 Asian Games with Sathiyan and also won a bronze with Manika Batra in the mixed doubles competition. Besides Sharath and Sathiyan, the only other Indian paddler in the men’s top 100 is Harmeet Desai, who is ranked 100.
Speaking to Firstpost prior to the Asian Games, Sharath had mentioned that he wanted to improve his ranking this year.
Meanwhile, Manika Batra gained one place to reach the 52 in the women’s rankings. She had won the gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. India had won eight medals in table tennis at those games.
An update on the IPL now. The BCCI announced on Monday that the player auction for the 2019 season will be held on 18th December.
This time around, the auction, which moves from Bangalore to Jaipur, will be conducted in just one day. The roster is smaller this time - just 50 Indian cricketers and 20 foreign players will go under the hammer. The various teams announced their retentions last month, with some big names being released. For instance, Yuvraj Singh was released by Kings XI Punjab while the Delhi Daredevils let go of former captain Gautam Gambhir.
Interestingly, Rajasthan Royals, who paid a massive 11.5 crores for Jaydev Unadkat last season, have released the left arm bowler. Mumbai Indians released star South African player JP Duminy and Bangladeshi fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman. There was also some talk of the 2019 edition being conducted outside of India, partially or entirely, in case it clashes with the general elections in May.
Updated Date: Dec 04, 2018 13:15 PM