Rajput starts planning for Zimbabwe coaching stint

Rajput's appointment as interim coach comes at a time when the team’s contracted players are in a contractual dispute with Zimbabwe cricket

Lalchand Rajput maintains the enviable record of guiding India to its title victory in the World Twenty20 in 2007, and he later also played a key role in helping Afghanistan attain Test status.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Lalchand Rajput’s appointment as interim coach of Zimbabwe comes at a time when the team’s contracted players are in a contractual dispute with the nation’s cricket governing body.

But keeping off-the-field turmoil aside, the 56-year-old Rajput hopes to make his presence felt in the short stint. Though he is yet to sign on the dotted line, the Mumbai-based coach has already started planning for the tri-nation series scheduled to take place in Harare in July.

Speaking to Sportstar, the seasoned coach insisted it was he who opted for the interim, three-month role. “I am new to the country, so it is important that I know the players well, and also get to know the board. If all goes well, we will think (of renewing the contract) further,” Rajput said, adding: “The focus now is the tri-series and we will take a call on the future after it gets over.”

Though he remains tight-lipped, it is learnt that Zimbabwe Cricket’s managing director Faisal Hasnain — who quit earlier this month — had initiated the talks with Rajput.

Commenting on how the offer came his way, Rajput, said Zimbabwe Cricket officials got in touch with him. “They asked me if I would be interested, and since there is no cricket in India in between June and August, I thought of utilising this time,” he explained.

Rajput maintains the enviable record of guiding India to its title victory in the World Twenty20 in 2007, and he later also played a key role in helping Afghanistan attain Test status. And with the Zimbabwe offer coming his way, Rajput wants to make his presence felt there. “I feel I am a turnaround man. I did it for India in the 2007 World T20, and then won the series in Australia. When I took charge of Afghanistan, not many were aware of their strength. Now, people are talking about them. Maybe that’s why Zimbabwe officials have thought that I am good enough. I like challenges. It is a great thing to turn things around,” he said.

While Rajput has started planning for his new assignment, there is still no clarity on the dates of his departure for Zimbabwe.