Mumbai: Former India cricketer Lalchand Rajput has been named as the new head coach of Afghanistan. The Mumbai batsman was previously the manager of the Indian cricket team when they won the inaugural ICC World T20 in 2007. Rajput becomes only the second Indian cricketer after Manoj Prabhakar (bowling coach of Afghan cricket) to have coached Afghanistan.
After a 17-year playing career, he has also served as the joint secretary of the Mumbai Cricket Association.
“Mr. Rajput has coached the Indian Under-19 Cricket side as well as the Mumbai Indians franchise in the IPL. His experience is a key asset for Afghanistan Cricket,” Afghanistan Cricket Board Chairman Danish Nasimullah said in a statement.
“Mr. Rajput is technically and professionally strong coach in cricket, I am sure his presence with Afghan national cricket team will benefit the team. He will be joining the team for the Scotland, Ireland and Netherland tour,” he added.
Nasimullah said that another former India player Mohammed Kaif had also applied for the post. “We have received several applications from all over the world, Lalchand Rajput and also Mohammad Kaif were shortlisted for the final round of interview. However Rajput was selected by the selection committee,” he said.
Rajput, who played two Tests and four ODIs for India coupled with his 110 matches and 7988 runs in first-class cricket, takes over the vacant slot left by Pakistan’s Inzama-ul-Haq. He has also coached Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy and Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League. Besides, his resume is also decorated with successful stints at the helm of India Under-19 and A teams.
Rajput’s first assignment is the tour of Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands in July and August. Afghanistan have been slowly gearing to be a force to reckon with. In the recently concluded ICC World T20, the Afghans stunned West Indies, who ultimately were crowned T20 champions. The Caribbean side became Afghanistan’s second Full Member scalp in the tournament, after Zimbabwe, and the match was another strong reminder that cricket needed to be more inclusive.
Rajput was one of the 57 applicants to have applied for Team India’s head coach job. He was also called to make his presentation to the BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sachin Jagdale.