Lalchand Rajput confident of bagging Team India job

“Look at my track record. They are self-explanatory. As a coach, I have won the first World T20 for India, the iconic CB Series in Australia. My records with India A and India U-19 teams are equally good,” feels Rajput.

When Rajput was given the coaching job in 2007-2008, it was a turbulent time for Indian cricket.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

As Lalchand Rajput starts talking from St Kitts, it’s already past midnight in the Caribbean islands. After a hard day’s training session with the Afghanistan cricketers, he sounds tired. But then, the mood lights up the moment the Mumbai-based coach raises the issue of his applying for Team India’s coaching job.

“I am confident,” he tells Sportstar from the team hotel. It’s Friday morning in India, and just woken up, the nation is busy talking whether Virender Sehwag would actually replace Anil Kumble as the team’s chief coach. Sitting far away from the action centre, the seasoned coach, however, exudes confidence.

“Look at my track record. They are self-explanatory. As a coach, I have won the first World T20 for India, the iconic CB Series in Australia. My records with India A and India U-19 teams are equally good,” Rajput says, adding that his coaching credentials are better than many of the applicants.

When Rajput was given the coaching job in 2007-2008, it was a turbulent time for Indian cricket. With most of the senior cricketers unhappy with the erstwhile coach Greg Chappell, it looked like a divided house. From there, Rajput and his support staff — Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh — settled the ship and helped India win the first-ever World T20 in South Africa. That too, under a new captain — Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Having seen all this, Rajput believes that if he is brought in the hot seat, there would not be any differences with the players. “After the Chappell era, the morale was low and a turnaround was required. We did that. The team peaked so well, and look at our results,” he says, referring to the winning record against Australia and Pakistan during his tenure.

“Handling the players would not be a problem,” the seasoned coach adds.

The former Mumbai captain has proved his mettle with the Afghanistan team as well. Taking over from Inzamam-ul Haq last year, Rajput has helped the minnows put up a good show at the international arena. And perhaps, that’s why he appears more confident. “I know the competition will be higher since some of the big names like Sehwag and Anil (Kumble) are in the fray. There are a few foreign coaches as well; they are all good at their work. But I think even I have done quite well as a coach,” the 55-year-old says.

Even as Rajput prepares himself for another job interview, the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) is ready to give him a long rope. While his contract with the Afghan side gets over in August, the ACB showed interest in extending the contact. “As a coach, Afghanistan gave me that confidence again. I am really grateful to them for helping me throughout. Since India is my home country, it would be great to coach that team again,” Rajput explains the reason about applying for the job.

With the cricket committee comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman going through the whole selection process, it would be interesting to see whether Rajput finally makes the cut. Win or lose, the Mumbaikar, however, is out to chase a dream. One more time!

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