Sanath Kumar set to join Meghalaya as coach

The experienced coach is expected to take charge of the Meghalaya side before the Ranji Trophy gets underway in Novemeber.

Sanath Kumar has previously been coach of Karnataka, Assam and Andhra Pradesh.   -  V. Raju

Sanath Kumar has been one of the coaches, who has helped some of the lower rung teams to punch above their weight in the first-class tournaments.

After guiding Assam to the semifinals of the Ranji Trophy in 2015-16 season, Kumar joined Andhra Pradesh as its coach last season and helped the side reach the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

And this time around, as Meghalaya gets ready to step into the Ranji Trophy circuit, Kumar is all set to coach the team for the tournament. The 55-year-old is presently associated with the India U-19 and India A teams. He, however, is expected to take charge of the Meghalaya side before the Ranji Trophy gets underway in Novemeber.

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Meghalaya Cricket Association’s secretary, Naba Bhattacharjee, confirmed to Sportstar that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has approved Kumar’s appointment. “We had recommended Sanath’s name and the Board has accepted our request. He will be coaching the side for this Ranji Trophy,” Bhattacharjee said on Tuesday.

A seasoned coach, Kumar has also worked with the star-studded Karnataka team in the past, but the Meghalaya officials zeroed in on him for the fact that he has a fair idea about the conditions in the hill state. “During his tenure as the coach of Assam, he would frequently visit Shillong for camps and matches and that’s why, he has an idea about how things work here. That will be helpful for the team,” Bhattacharjee said.

When contacted by this publication, the 55-year-old Kumar also admitted that he is set to join Meghalaya. “It (the news) is true. But the BCCI hasn’t officially announced it, so I am not speaking much about it,” Kumar said. The Board is expected to issue a release in a day or two.

As per the decision earlier this month, the BCCI had agreed to bear the expenses of the coaching staff and professional players for the six northeast states.

The association, it is learnt, will appoint an interim coach for the Vijay Hazare Trophy, which begins next month. “Sanath has commitments with India A, so we will have to appoint an interim coach for the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He will join the team a few weeks before the Ranji Trophy begins,” Bhattacharjee said.

The Meghalaya officials also claimed that they are pursuing Puneet Bisht, Gurinder Singh and Yogesh Nagar as professional players for the season. However, when contacted, Bisht—a seasoned wicketkeeper-batsman, said that nothing is confirmed yet. “I am in talks with someone from the association. But nothing has been finalised yet,” Bisht said.