Harmanpreet Kaur in action. ©ICC

Indian T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur revealed to ESPNCricinfo that she wanted to take break from cricket after the controversy during World T20.

Kaur termed the controversy and its aftermath as ‘madness’ and described how it pushed her into suffering mentally. The team management and Harmanpreet took a collective call to drop senior player Mithali Raj for the semifinal against England, in which India’s batting failed miserably. This cascaded into a massive controversy that led to divisions in the team and coach Ramesh Powar got the sack.

It dragged on from November to January when the new coach WV Raman took over the side for a tour to New Zealand. Kaur twisted her ankle ahead of the first T20 International in New Zealand, but carried on playing in rest of the series.

“It [the injury] gave me a much needed break from international cricket and the Indian dressing room. I had almost made up my mind to let my parents know that I wanted to take a break. I don’t want to hold on to a spot in the Indian team just because I am a senior player,”

She further added “I wanted to get away from cricket. Whatever happened around the team before that was immensely draining for me. Some of the things said were so far from reality that I felt, ‘I need to step away from this madness for a while’. I’m here to play cricket. If people want to drag me into unnecessary things, drag the team into unnecessary things, I have to stop trying to reason with them,”

“I twisted my left foot while playing football during a warm-up ahead of the first T20I in New Zealand [in early February]. I somehow managed to play all three T20Is despite being in some discomfort because to call up a replacement at such short notice may not have been possible. Besides, all through my career, I’ve played with fevers, shoulder, ankle and wrist injuries, so I didn’t feel like this was going to be anything significant.

“The taping and painkillers had been working fine in the warm-ups, so I thought I could deal with it. But during the matches, my movement was severely affected. Scans later revealed that there were some Level 1 and 2 ligament tears near the back of my ankle. I was at the National Cricket Academy from February 22 to April 9, and that break was a blessing in disguise for me,” she said.

The disaster in the semi-final followed by the ‘madness’ made Kaur to rethink about her role in the Indian national team.

“Look, I was to play in the WBBL after the World T20, and for a while, after coming from the West Indies, I was even considering only playing in the overseas leagues and then making my way back into the Indian team. I spent hours alone, asking myself, ‘Why do I play sport?’ Because I enjoy it, because playing cricket is the only thing I’ve ever done in life.

“Agar khelke mazaa nahi aa raha hai [If I’m not enjoying the game] then I don’t want to block a place in the side, because money is not everything. Yes, we’ve only just started making some money from playing cricket, but if cricket is not giving me joy, I am happy to walk away rather than hold on to that spot just because I have a Grade A contract.

“So all of these thoughts were bothering me a lot. Mentally I was unwell, unfit, but that injury bailed me out of that terrible head space,” she added.

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