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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Lalchand Rajput praises Team India

Lalchand Rajput praises Team India

March 11, 2008 00:22 IST

India's assistant coach for the Australian tour Lalchand Rajput on Monday paid rich tributes to the Indian team for coming up trumps Down Under despite all the controversies that marred the three-month long tour.

"When we went there, the Australians tried everything to put pressure on us. The media, commentators, players, groundsmen and everyone there tried every tactics to distract us because they believe in winning at any cost whether by hook or by crook. But we believed in ourselves and played as a unit and that is why we performed so well in both the Tests and one-dayers," Rajput said in Mumbai.

Rajput was felicitated at a function at the Ruia College in Mumbai for managing the team successfully during the Twenty20 World Cup and in the tri-series in Australia.

The former Mumbai batsman, however, made it clear that the team deserved all the credit for winning despite all the odds.

"If you noticed whenever there was a close appeal against the Australian batsmen there were no replays shown. But if there was a close appeal against any Indian batsmen, it was shown 10 times on the big screen.

The Test series should have been 2-1 in our favour but everyone knows why the result was not like that. They tried to instigate our young players like Harbhajan Singh and even Ishant Sharma, who gave them a tough time in the Test series. Even the match referee was always acting against our players while the Australian players got away easily," he added.

Rajput said that veteran Sachin Tendulkar played a huge role in guiding the youngsters during the tri-series, which the visitors won beating Australia 2-0 in the best of three finals.

"Sachin is an icon. In the Test matches the way he batted it was a lesson for the youngsters and even in the way he managed himself off the field. In the ODIs it was a matter of time that he came into form and he proved everyone wrong with his two big knocks in the finals. It was a slap on the face of anyone who was writing Tendulkar off. His mere presence in the team makes a huge difference," he said.

Rajput believes that the Australia tour has unearthed quite a few talented youngsters, who have the potential to make it big in international cricket.

"The youngsters coped very well with the pressure in Australia and proved that they are here to stay. Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Pravin Kumar and Piyush Chawla performed remarkably well whenever they got the chance," he said.

Rajput also came down heavily on former teammate and current chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar, who had criticised Yuvraj Singh for his batting failures in Australia.

 Team India gets a grand welcome

"It was not the right time to criticise Yuvraj because we had just came back from Australia and were celebrating the victory. Being the chairman of selectors, Vengsarkar could have told Yuvraj in private and not in public. I think every player goes through a bad phase in their career and we must support a player of the capability of Yuvraj. He is a good player and will come back strongly and I am sure very soon he will be a permanent part of the Test side too," he said.

The Australian tour might turn out to be Rajput's last assignment with the Indian senior team with Gary Kirsten set to take over as the full time coach.

"I don't know what is in store for me next. I am yet to hear from the BCCI about my next assignment. I am ready to take up any offer that is given to me," he said.

Harish Kotian in Mumbai