India captain Harmanpreet Kaur quashed claims that former head coach Ramesh Powar was moved to the NCA due to differences with players and added that the side is in the right hands with Hrishikesh Kanitkar now joining in as batting coach.
On Tuesday, Kanitkar was made the women’s team batting coach with Powar appointed as the spin bowling coach at the National Cricket Academy (NCA). Kanitkar, who coached India U19 to the World Cup title early this year in West Indies, had been with the women’s team during their white-ball tour of Sri Lanka in June-July and was also the batting coach of men’s team on the tour of New Zealand in November.
“Well, nothing of that kind. I have always enjoyed working with Ramesh sir whenever I have had the opportunity. As a team, we have improved a lot (under him). We have learned a lot from him. It’s a BCCI decision that he has moved to the NCA now, where he will work as the spin coach. Whenever we will be at the NCA, sir is always available.”
“Hrishi (Hrishikesh Kanitkar) sir is here with us. We had a very good experience with him when we were in Sri Lanka. Whenever we were at the NCA, he was always available. Hrishi sir brings in a lot of experience for the team and we’re only looking forward to how to take this team ahead. I think we are in the right hands. Whatever decision the BCCI is taking, we’re fully okay with that,” said Harmanpreet on the eve of the first T20I against Australia at D.Y. Patil Stadium.
Harmanpreet remarked that Kanitkar brought a sense of calmness to the team, especially in crunch situations, during their tour of Sri Lanka. “He’s very calm and we needed someone who can give us that calmness on the field because in the past, during crucial situations, you must have seen that the girls needed support and guide with calmness to tell what to do and how to do and there should be clear thoughts.”
“In Sri Lanka, we experienced that side of Hrishi sir. When we heard that he will be the coach for the Australia series and even beyond that, there was positivity in the team. We really liked the way he worked with us in Sri Lanka.”
Harmanpreet also explained how Kanitkar helped them in taking the side out of tough circumstances, citing the third ODI against Sri Lanka at Pallekele in July, where she and Pooja Vastrakar had made the fifties and shared a 97-run stand for the seventh wicket to carry India to 255/9 and eventually, a 39-run victory.
“I remember there was a partnership between me and Pooja (Vastrakar, out of Australia series due to injury), that partnership was so crucial and because of it, we could post a decent total. The things which we discussed with him, and executing them within one or two games, those things matter a lot. All the girls had worked alongside him and everyone was happy, impressed by the way he was presenting things to us.”
“He helped us in terms of how to execute plans and which players would take the responsibility in which and what situations. There were times during ODI matches on that tour when we lost early wickets, but we bounced back and scored big totals like 250. He helped us in understanding how to bat in those circumstances.”
With the Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa less than two months away, the timing of moving Powar to NCA came as a surprise, even though it wasn’t the first instance of such happening in the Indian women’s side.
In 2017, just a few months before the ODI World Cup in England, Purnima Rau was sacked and Tushar Arothe was brought in as the head coach. Even though the team went on to be the runners-up and got limelight, the timing of changing head coaches did bring in some criticism.
Now, with the position of head coach vacant, Harmanpreet didn’t put much attention to it and believes the team won’t have difficulty in adjusting to Kanitkar’s clarity and style of coaching due to his previous familiarity with the side.
“When we were there with Hrishi sir in Sri Lanka, we got to clear a lot of things as a batting unit, because we had some targets. We discussed with him how to achieve our targets and we spoke about setting those small targets, where he also brought out his experiences of achieving those targets.”
“Had there been a new coach, it could have been a little bit difficult. But since we have worked with Hrishi sir in the past, I don’t think there will be any problems. If a new person comes in, you need to explain a lot of things like how we work and wish to take things forward. But Hrishi sir already knows how we work, so there won’t be many changes.”