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'Captain, coach should be on same wavelength'

July 07, 2017 09:39 IST

'You should keep your ego aside, whether you are coach or a player.'

IMAGE: Sachin Tendulkar, left, with Lalchand Rajput. Photograph: Will Burgess/Reuters

Ravi Shastri and Virender Sehwag's names may be doing the rounds for the Indian cricket coach's job, but Lalchand Rajput is hoping his credentials and record are also considered for the assignment.

India's fascination for high-profile figures as coach may not make Rajput one of the favourites for the job, but if qualifications and experience are the criterion, he would be the front-runner.

Rajput, a former India player, is one of the rare coaches in India who is actually qualified for the job, having successfully completed the Level 3 coaching course.

He has also delivered results whenever he has been called upon to manage the Indian team.

The 55 year old served as the Cricket Manager, a role he says was similar to the head coach during India's World T20 title victory in 2007, the triumph in the tri-series in Australia in 2007-2008, the Test and ODI series wins against Pakistan in 2007.

Rajput has over 20 years of experience as coach, having also coached the India Under-15 and Under-19 teams.

Interestingly, Virat Kohli was part of the Under-19 team under Rajput when it won five away series in a row.

Rajput was the coach of India 'A' team for four years from 2011 to 2015 before Rahul Dravid took over the job.

The former Mumbai batsman then took charge of the Afghanistan national team and has produced good results for them including a shock victory in an ODI against the West Indies, while also winning against Zimbabwe and Ireland.

Lalchand Rajput spoke to Rediff.com's Harish Kotian on the ideal captain-coach relationship, managing the Afghan national team and more...

You have applied for the Indian coach's job. What is your expectation?

There is no expectation as such.

Every individual likes to coach his own country and I am no different.

I am a qualified coach and I have proved my worth when India won the World T20 in 2007.

For the last year I have been coaching the Afghanistan team and they have been doing really well at the international level.

Afghanistan has recently been granted Test status, which is another feather in my cap as coach.

How has been your experience coaching Afghanistan?

They have some flamboyant players, and till now they had only played mostly T20 cricket.

I told them that if they wanted to make a mark on the stage, then they have to become better players in the longer formats too.

If you can improve your skill levels and your temperament, then you can perform consistently.

Previously they used to consistently lose matches, but in the last one year I am very happy they are winning consistently.

We have not lost a single series in the last one year apart from the T20 series in the West Indies.

We have beaten Zimbabwe, Ireland and registered 11 T20 wins in a row, which is also a world record.

That consistency factor is important, especially for an emerging team like Afghanistan.

What has been the motivation for the players coming from a war-ravaged country like Afghanistan with no proper infrastructure to train?

The Afghanistan players are very hard working, they want to improve all the time and become better cricketers because that is their only means of livelihood. They have no other means to make a living back home.

They are mentally very tough because they have seen so much already in their lives.

They are keen to do well at the international level and make a name for Afghanistan on the world stage.

The two players, Rashid Ali and Mohammed Nabi, playing in the IPL made a huge difference to Afghanistan cricket and the other players in the team.

All the Afghanistan players are now motivated to perform better and get a chance to play in the top leagues like the IPL.

Tell us about your time when you managed the Indian team when they won the World T20 in 2007 under Mahendra Singh Dhoni's captaincy.

I was the cricket manager of the Indian team in 2007 when we won the World T20.

My role was similar to a head coach's job.

It was a big thing for Indian cricket and following that win, the IPL (Indian Premier League) was created.

After that, we won the Test and ODI series against Pakistan at home.

We went to Australia later that year. We lost that Test series 2-1, we should have won it and everybody knows what happened.

But we made a good comeback in the tri-series, winning the three-match final against Australia 2-0.

So if you look at my record as coach, I have done quite well I would say.

That was the time Dhoni started his captaincy tenure. How was your relationship with him?

Dhoni was young and had just taken over as captain for the first time.

We had a good rapport and we just looked to get the team together.

We gelled well and that is why the performance of the team was good.

It was important to get the team together because after Greg Chappell left, the team was going in different directions.

We got the players together and created a good atmosphere for the players, so they enjoyed their cricket and the result was that we started winning.

From your experience, who do you think is the boss in the dressing room? Is it the captain or the coach?

My view is that the captain and the coach should on the same wavelength.

If they are both on the same page, then the team will definitely perform well.

What is the key to a good captain-coach relationship, especially for a team like India which is full of superstars?

The key is that you should keep your ego aside, whether you are the coach or a player.

For a coach, it is important to have good man management skills.

At the international level, it is about man management because at that level you won't be teaching a top player like Virat Kohli how to play a cover drive.

You have to manage them well and if somebody is getting out consistently in the same fashion, then you have to sit with him, analyse his dismissals and suggest ways to get over the problem.

You have to figure out the player's weakness, work on it and make it their strong points.

Harish Kotian / Rediff.com
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