Ramesh Powar returns as India Women coach

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He replaces WV Raman, coming back after his last stint had ended in an acrimonious fallout with Mithali Raj

Ramesh Powar has returned as the India Women coach, after his first stint ended in acrimony in late 2018 amid a fallout with Mithali Raj.

Powar was replaced by WV Raman, and will now take over from the incumbent. While Raman’s coaching tenure began in December 2018, the Indian team has been largely inactive for almost two years, including the time period after which the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

 ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Under Raman, India reached the final of the T20 World Cup in 2020, losing to Australia on March 8. With the pandemic striking worldwide almost immediately after, the team didn’t play another international match until their home series against South Africa Women that began on March 7 earlier this year. South Africa won the ODIs 4-1, and the T20Is 2-1.

Raman’s position had come in for scrutiny following the losses to South Africa, and those reversals, ESPNcricinfo understands, prompted the selection panel led by Neetu David to ask the BCCI for a rethink on the support staff. BCCI secretary Jay Shah is believed to have spoken to at least one member of the selection committee before the Indian board put out an advertisement, on April 13, inviting applications for the head coach’s job – for a term of two years, with the job including overseeing the senior team as well as the India A and Under-19 teams.

Powar was then selected by the Cricket Advisory Committee, comprising Madan Lal, RP Singh and Sulakshana Naik, who interviewed a number of candidates for the post which saw 35 applications. Besides Powar and Raman – who re-applied – the others in the fray were Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Ajay Ratra, Mamtha Maben, Devika Palshikar, former chair of selectors Hemlatha Kala, and former assistant coach Suman Sharma.

ESPNcricinfo understands Powar is expected to meet with the five-member selection panel, led by Neetu David, on a virtual platform this week to pick the squad for India’s upcoming tour of the UK, which kicks off with a one-off Test on June 16 in Bristol.

Powar had first been appointed as coach in July 2018 in an interim capacity, and his contract was then extended to cover the 2018 T20 World Cup in the Caribbean. While India reached the semi-finals of the event, its aftermath had Raj and Powar trading accusations, with Raj saying she felt “deflated, depressed and let down” by the actions of Powar during the tournament, and Powar countering that Raj had “threatened to retire” mid-tournament if she wasn’t given the opener’s slot.

The controversy meant Powar’s contract was not renewed, even though senior players Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana had both written to the BCCI urging them to continue with him.

Powar then worked at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru and with the India A sides, before taking over as the coach of Mumbai men’s team in February 2021. Under his charge, Mumbai turned their fortunes around to romp to the Vijay Hazare Trophy (50-overs domestic competition) title after a forgettable Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy campaign in which they won only one of their five games.

In his playing career, Powar played two Tests and 31 ODIs for India from 2004 to 2007, taking a total of 40 international wickets. His domestic career spanned from 1999-00 to 2015, as an offspinning allrounder of considerable skill. He took 470 first-class wickets (average 31.31) while also scoring 4245 first-class runs (average 26.53) in 148 games. He played 113 List A matches, taking 142 wickets and hitting 1082 runs. Powar played 28 T20 games, including in the IPL for Kings XI Punjab and Kochi Tuskers Kerala.

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