When Lalchand Rajput sends his Zimbabwe men into battle in the second Test against Afghanistan tomorrow hoping to clinch a first away series victory in nearly 20 years, he does so in the knowledge that if he succeeds he will be doing it against one of the sides he helped to build.
Rajput was coach of Afghanistan between June 2016 and August 2017 and was instrumental in giving them the confidence to press for Test status.
Had it not been for his own family’s worries about him relocating to war-torn Kabul, he might be in the opposite changing room, plotting the downfall of the team he is in charge of today. Last week, his team recorded a two-day 10-wicket victory over his former charges founded on Sean Williams’ first-innings 105 and six wickets in the match for pace bowler Blessing Muzarabani.
The 59-year-old coach from Mumbai has given Guerilla Cricket an exclusive insight into his work over the past 15 years in a wide-ranging three-part interview with commentator Anindya Dutta that also takes in his role as an influence on the new “fearless” India team, fresh from highly impressive series wins against Australia and England, and key players in that Indian team.
He tells of transforming Afghanistan from a team only looking to play short-form cricket to one that gained ICC Full Member status under his watch, and the difficulties of guiding Zimbabwe cricket through an ICC ban and the Covid pandemic. He also comments on how he is looking for players that are “hungry for success” as he tries to raise the team to levels it acquired in the late 1990s.
The full interview is here:
Tomorrow: how I helped shape the new “fearless” India