Lalchand Rajput Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Dubai: Lalchand Rajput has once again proved that he is among the most sought-after coaches in world cricket today when he was named as interim coach to replace Zimbabwe’s former allrounder-turned-coach Heath Streak, who was sacked in March after their team failed to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.

Speaking to Gulf News on his new assignment for Zimbabwe, Rajput said: “I am feeling very elated that a foreign team has recognised my work as coach and I am looking forward to work with these players.”

Despite his low profile, teams that have used his services have realised Rajput’s expertise in grooming youngsters and shaping teams into fighting units. His role as manager for the inaugural 2007 ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa had played a pivotal role in India emerging as the champions under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He has also coached the Mumbai Indians team in the 2008 IPL edition, Assam in the Ranji Trophy, and mentored a team in the recent T20 Mumbai League. He has also held the position of coaching director of the BCCI’s National Cricket Academy.

Rajput was also one of the candidates to be considered for Team India coach, the job eventually going to Ravi Shastri.

Rajput coached Afghanistan over the last two years and lifted their team’s profile in world cricket, especially by shaping many youngsters.

He will take charge of Zimbabwe from the home series against Australia and Pakistan in July. “It will be a challenge to prepare them to perform well against Australia and Pakistan. I like challenges and I have always taken it in a positive way,” Rajput added.

Zimbabwe Cricket tweeted saying: “ZC has named Lalchand Rajput as Zimbabwe’s interim head coach. The 56-year-old former India cricketer is a highly qualified, vastly experienced and well-respected coach who was in charge when India won the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007. We wish you all the best! #Welcome.”

Rajput, who will now fly to Harare, said: “I am a positive person and always be positive in my approach.”