Purnima Rau, the former India women captain, has been sacked as head coach of the national team two months ahead of the 2017 Women’s World Cup in England and Wales. Rau has been replaced by Tushar Arothe, the former Baroda batsman, who previously had a stint as the India women fielding coach and head coach between 2008 and 2012.
Arothe has been appointed till the World Cup in June-July to begin with, and will join the national team’s week-long conditioning camp in Mumbai on Saturday.
“The call came from the BCCI asking if I’d be keen. An opportunity to coach the national team is something I didn’t want to miss,” Arothe told ESPNcricinfo. “I’ve had prior experience of coaching the women’s team, so familiarity, at least with the seniors, won’t be an issue.
“From the time I left till now, there are a lot of young players who have come through. The biggest challenge will be to get the team conditioned for the World Cup. We don’t lack in batting and bowling, but fielding and fitness is an area that we lag in comparison with some of the other big sides. That will be the prime focus at the camp in Mumbai.”
Apart from coaching the national women’s team, Arothe has also been involved with the Baroda women’s team. Last year, he was appointed head coach of the Baroda men’s team for the 2016-17 season, but had to resign due to conflict of interest following the selection of his son Rishi. He has also served as head coach of Chhattisgarh and Baroda Under-16s.
Rau, meanwhile, reportedly learnt of her sacking from the media. “I was preparing the team for the World Cup when I heard of this from elsewhere,” she told PTI. “I wasn’t given any explanation or reason by the board. In terms of results, we were successful. To be axed this way is disappointing and insulting.”
Rau, who played five Tests and 33 ODIs, had two stints as head coach. She was first appointed in February 2014, but was sacked after the team’s first-round exit at the Women’s World T20 that year. In June 2015, she was reappointed with the team seeking headway to earn direct qualification for the World Cup.
Under Rau, India recorded their first-ever bilateral series win in Australia in January 2016. More recently, they beat Pakistan in the final of the Asia Cup in Bangkok and the World Cup Qualifiers in Colombo.
India’s next assignment is a quadrangular series in South Africa, also involving Ireland and Zimbabwe, in May. That will be followed by the World Cup where India square off against England in the tournament opener on June 24 in Derby.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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