Lalchand Rajput appointed as Afghanistan's new coach

Lalchand Rajput, former Indian opening batsman, will replace Inzamam-ul-Haq as the head coach of Afghanistan, in a decision announced by the country's cricket board on Saturday. Inzamam resigned from his post in April.

Lalchand Rajput has served as India's team manager in the 2007-08 season.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Two days after being toppled over by Anil Kumble in the race for the India coach, former India batsman and coaching staff member Lalchand Rajput has taken over as the head coach of Afghanistan’s national cricket team. Rajput will succeed former Pakistan great Inzamam-ul-Haq, who severed ties with Afghanistan after its memorable World Twenty20 campaign earlier this year.

“They had approached me a couple of months ago but I had told them I was going to apply for the India coach’s post,” Rajput, who was in charge of the Indian team for six months in 2007-08, including a triumphant World Twenty20 campaign, told Sportstar on Saturday. “Once the India coach was announced, the Afghanistan board called again and offered the position and I decided to take up the challenge.”

Rajput was one of the four Indians interviewed for the India coach’s post but has fallen out of the race for the assistant coach as well. Once the Afghanistan Cricket Board preferred him on the recommendation of the BCCI ahead of former Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf, South Africa opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs and West Indies’ new-ball bowler Corey Collymore, Rajput didn’t hesitate to take up the challenge.

“It’s an exciting challenge. The team is on the way up and I am looking forward to a bunch of highly-skilled players,” Rajput said. “They offered me a two-year contract but I have told them we will first test the waters during the Europe tour and take it from there.” Rajput will join the team for Afghanistan’s next assignment, seven ODIs in Scotland and Ireland followed by an ICC Intercontinental Cup match in Netherlands.