Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
India women's recent string of poor results, culminating in the loss to Bangladesh in the Asia Cup final, has brought alleged discord within the team to the fore with less than five months to go to the World T20.
On Wednesday, head coach Tushar Arothe wasn't invited to a meeting attended by limited-overs captains Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur, and Committee of Administrators chief Vinod Rai and member Diana Edulji. Also present were women's selection committee chief Hemalata Kala and team manager Trupti Bhattacharya.
This comes in the wake of a series review meeting held in Bengaluru on June 13 upon the team's return from the Asia Cup. Arothe, BCCI general manager (cricket operations) Saba Karim, and BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary were in attendance in that instance.
ESPNcricinfo understands the dynamics between the team and Arothe had been fairly healthy as recently as the tour of South Africa in February, when India won both limited-overs series. However, below-par performances at home against Australia and in the tri-series featuring Australia and England - in the face of mounting pressure to live up to expectations after India's breakout run in the World Cup last year - seem to have played a part in the growing discontent between some of the high-profile regulars and Arothe. The Asia Cup loss is understood to have been the tipping point.
One of the reasons for the alleged discord seems to be training methods. For the major part of Arothe's tenure, since his appointment in April 2017, two mandatory practice sessions of roughly two-and-a-half-hours each in the morning and late afternoon, and an optional afternoon session, have been part of the team's training regimen with a view to enhancing the all-round skills of all players, especially the tail-enders.
But the larger consensus among players has been to have one long session a day, so as to accommodate training at the gym and an optional session if necessary - feedback that had been amicably conveyed to Arothe ahead of the Asia Cup. The subject, however, is believed to have been a moot point during discussions at the meetings with the CoA members and the selectors.
Iffy selection calls are understood to be another reason for the discord, foremost being the omission of 17-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues from the starting XI for the entire tournament. This, even as every other member of the squad featured in at least one game.
It is believed Rodrigues' underwhelming form at the nets and in the warm-up match in Malaysia played its part in her being benched. The decision to leave her out is understood to have been taken in consultation with Harmanpreet, the captain, and vice-captain Mandhana.
During the team's brief stay in Bengaluru, where a conditioning camp was to be held at the National Cricket Academy from June 15 to 25, speculation over the high-profile regulars addressing their grievances about Arothe to senior board officials started circulating. This coincided with the last-minute cancellation of the camp and the BCCI subsequently imposing a media gag on all the players and support staff.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the less-than-satisfactory performances at the Asia Cup played a hand in the cancellation of the camp. The support staff, however, wasn't informed of this development until the last minute, even though they were asked to prepare a list of facilities required for the players. Soon after the BCCI's annual awards ceremony on June 12 ended, the team was told to disperse because of unavailability of space at the NCA.
An overall camp - barring Harmanpreet and Mandhana who are set to play in the KSL - is to be held for the women's team around July 25. Two skills-specific camps for a select group of batsmen and quick bowlers will take place before that in two batches, starting on June 30 and July 5. India's next assignment is a limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka in September. There are also talks of a bilateral series in the West Indies ahead of the World T20 in November.