Newly-appointed Zimbabwe’s interim head-coach, Lalchand Rajput, is aiming to transform the struggling Zimbabwean cricket just like he did with Afghanistan cricket team in his 15-month impressive tenure.
Afghanistan secured full membership at the ICC and won six limited-overs series, as well as, won their first ever win in an ODI over West Indies –a Full Member other than Zimbabwe or Bangladesh under Rajput, who has replaced sacked Heath Streak in Zimbabwe team.
They were also awarded Test status along with Ireland last June by ICC and are set to play their maiden Test match against top-ranked India next month in Bangalore.
However, it will be a tough task for Rajput to bring back glory days of Zimbabwe especially after their ouster from next year's World Cup, but he is ready for the challenge, saying his first job will be to get the team working as a cohesive unit to make sure that they will play with their potential.
Rajput told PTI, “When I joined Afghanistan nobody knew that Afghanistan would go to that level. And we (Afghanistan) got the Test status. We never lost a series. And now people are talking about Afghanistan that they are doing well. The same thing, I would like Zimbabwe to do.”
Former Indian cricket team manager further added, “I am really happy that Zimbabwe approached me and they wanted my services. It is a great feeling that an international team is recognizing my talent. At the same time, it is a big challenge because Zimbabwe has not qualified for the (2019) World Cup, so people are talking about it. But I look at it in a positive way, it is a challenge for me and I like challenges.”
Rajput will join the Zimbabwe side in June first-week, while his first assignment is a T20-tri series against Pakistan, starting from 1 July in Harare. He further stated, “My main job is to prepare them well for this tournament. I have suggested a few things. They have picked up four teams and there are more than 50-60 players. So I said you play matches and once we play matches, then we can have a good look at the players and then select the national team.”
He also said that Zimbabwe has many talented players and some of them he knows but only needs to get that talent into performance, which is his main focus.
Rajput signed off by saying, “Afghanistan had gone to Zimbabwe and we played them and beat them. So I know most of the players. Zimbabwe is a Test playing and it has been there for a number of years. So talent is there and they have got fantastic players. They have produced some of the world class players like Flower brothers (Andy and Grant), (Brandon) Taylor is there, (Graeme) Creamer is there, so talent is there (and) now getting that talent into performance and performance on a consistent basis is my main focus.”