Rajput wants to replicate Afghanistan success with Zimbabwe
By Nikhil Bapat
Mumbai, May 25 (PTI) Lalchand Rajput is determined to bring back glorious days of a struggling Zimbabwe just like he transformed Afghanistan cricket team.
Rajput was recently appointed as Zimbabwe's interim head-coach as he replaced Heath Streak, who was sacked.
Under Rajput Afghanistan secured Full Membership at the ICC and won six limited-overs series. They also savoured a morale-boosting win over West Indies in an ODI at Gros Islet as it was their first ever win in this format over a Full Member other than Zimbabwe or Bangladesh.
Afghanistan were recently given Test status and will play their first ever Test against India in next month in Bengaluru.
"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," Rajput told PTI.
"I am really happy that Zimbabwe approached me and they wanted my services. It is great feeling that an international team is recognising 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," 56-year-old Rajput said.
His first assignment is a Twenty20-tri series, commencing July 1 with Zimbabwe taking on Pakistan in Harare.
"My main job is to prepare them well for this tournament," said the former India cricket manager.
Rajput said that he will take up the new assignment in June first-week.
"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 informed.
Rajput insisted that Zimbabwe has a pool of talented players.
"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 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 consistent basis is my main focus," said Rajput, who played two Tests and four ODIs for India