Rajput lauds players' attitude

HARARE - Newly-appointed Zimbabwe Cricket coach Lalchand Rajput has lauded national team players’ attitude and commitment towards the game adding that it has made his role as substantive gaffer relatively much easier.

The former Afghanistan mentor credited for bringing about the Asian side’s Test status has also had a successful stint with his native Indian national team guiding them to the 2007 World Twenty20 triumph. He also coached the Indian A and U19 teams as well as the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

He was named ZC interim coach following the sacking of Heath Streak after the ICC World Cup Qualifier debacle where Zimbabwe failed to go past minnows United Arab Emirates and which subsequently cost them a place at next year’s World Cup in England.

Rajput was confirmed substantive national team coach late last month despite losing all the matches in the triangular series against Australia and Pakistan that was won by the latter. Zimbabwe also went on to lose the five-match One Day International series against Pakistan in Bulawayo on a whitewash.

“To be very honest, I had come on an interim basis as I wanted to first assess the team and its players. It was important for me to understand the players, assess their strengths and weaknesses and their attitude towards the game,” Rajput said in a recent interview.

“The players are very hardworking and the team strives to improve their performance in every game. I think I have in the last three months seen that the players are keen to work hard. If they are keen to work hard, my job becomes easier. My experience as an international player and coach can really make a difference to this team.”

A former Indian batsman himself Rajput is looking forward to bring back Zimbabwe to its former glory. “The biggest challenge is that I want to get the team where it was earlier because the team has fantastic players who have done really well. To have a full squad will be excellent,” he added.

“They will bring additional strength and confidence to the team. The likes of Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine — their coming back means a great deal.”

Taylor, Ervine and Williams all missed the home ties against Australia and Pakistan demanding assurances on their outstanding salaries and match fees. The International Cricket Council has, however, since intervened and all are back in the fold and available for away tours against South Africa end of the month and Bangladesh October.

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