Hyderabad: That Mithali Raj failed to get nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award this year along with Para Olympics gold medalist Devendra Jhajharia and hockey Olympian Sardar Singh on Thursday has sparked a debate, particularly after her commendable show in the cricket World Cup where India finished runners-up to hosts England at Lord’s. She became the first woman cricketer to score over 6,000 runs in ODIs during the course of the tournament where she notched up two centuries. Apart from her batting feats, Mithali impressed with her captaincy that took India to a new high.
Many have pointed out that BCCI did not push the Indian skipper’s candidature for the coveted award. Although the last date for submitting the names to the Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award committees is April 30, there are instances when the sports bodies have pushed the deserving candidates well after the deadline. However, the BCCI failed to recognise the achievements of Mithali.
Former International Nooshin Al Khadeer said it was unfortunate that Mithali’s splendid performances for the last two decades or so have not been recognised. “It is just not a one-off performance at the World Cup. She has been a consistent performer with the bat for Indian women’s cricket. She has been deprived of the Khel Ratna award. It would have been appropriate had the Government and the BCCI recognised her achievements. She deserves the nation’s highest sporting award,’’ she said.
It is not the first time that a Hyderabad sports person has been robbed of the Khel Ratna award. In 2010 shooter Gagan Narang, who bagged four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, was ignored for the country’s highest sporting honour that year. The shooter was conferred with Khel Ratna award the next year.
In this case, a former player said the Hyderabad Cricket Association should strongly put the case forward to the BCCI. “The HCA should in right earnest raise the matter with BCCI and ensure that Mithali gets the Khel Ratna award.’’ Meanwhile, St John’s Sports Coaching Foundation will felicitate Mithali on Saturday evening while HCA will honour the Indian skipper on Monday.