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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Mithali Raj ignored for Khel Ratna, BCCI criticised for not recommending name

Devendra Jhajharia became the first Paralympian to be recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna along with former hockey captain Sardar Singh. The most glaring miss perhaps was Mithali Raj.

other-sports Updated: Aug 03, 2017 21:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Mithali Raj led the Indian women's cricket team to the final of the World Cup against England recently.
Mithali Raj led the Indian women's cricket team to the final of the World Cup against England recently.(PTI)

Devendra Jhajharia became the first Paralympian to be recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna on Thursday along with former hockey captain Sardar Singh. However, it was strange to find no member of the women’s cricket team, which reached the World Cup final recently, was on the list.

The most glaring miss perhaps was that of the team skipper Mithali Raj. Apart from becoming the only Indian captain to take the team to the World Cup final, that too twice, Raj also finished the tournament with 409 runs, one short of leading run-getter Tammy Beaumont. She also surpassed England great Charlotte Edwards, becoming the highest run-getter in women’s ODI cricket and becoming the first Indian to score 1000 runs in the World Cup.

READ | Sardar Singh, battle-hardened veteran, keeps on fighting with Khel Ratna

Usually, the federation sends nominations but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) ignored the call. The deadline was April 30. Despite BCCI’s snub, Raj has already proved her worth and her admirers, including former women cricketers, strongly believe she should be conferred the award.

“It’s surprising. In my opinion both Mithali and Jhulan (Goswami) deserve the Khel Ratna, simply because they are now the world-record holders,” said former India skipper, Shantha Rangaswamy. What they have achieved, words can’t describe it. They’ve done great service for the team. But I’m sure the central government can ignore the absence of recommendations and give them the award. They both richly deserve it.”

READ | Khel Ratna: Sardar Singh, Devendra Jhajharia recommended for top award

Rangaswamy was the first woman cricketer to receive a lifetime achievement award from the BCCI. She was also India women’s first Test captain and the first to lead them to a series victory. She was given the Arjuna award in 1976.

Sreerupa Bose, who has two ODI caps to her name, said the Indian captain should have been considered by BCCI. “Such consistency is not seen in many cricketers. She is one of those who has kept her consistency for years now. Also, she is the highest run-getter, which is no mean achievement. These are top qualities of a player to get recognised,” she said.

READ | Why Indian women’s cricket captain Mithali Raj deserves a Khel Ratna

Jhajharia, the first Indian to win two Paralympic golds, was the first nomination of the selection committee but both names can be considered by the sports ministry. Sardar Singh has been one of India’s prolific midfielders and has been a vital cog in the side for the past decade.

Jitu Rai, who was given the award with shuttler PV Sindhu, wrestler Sakshi Malik and gymnast Dipa Karmakar, congratulated the duo stating: “It’s not that we play for awards. But it feels good to see our talent being recognised. It’s the job of the federation to at least send in names of players who’ve made the nation proud for such a long period. This (Mithali’s snub) isn’t right. If a player is working hard, it’s important to motivate him/her to help her notch a better level. If the players are backed in the right way, they’re bound to get better.”

First Published: Aug 03, 2017 20:57 IST

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