The Sunday Mail
LACHAND RAJPUT’s initiation as Zimbabwe Cricket head coach was tough.
Everything that could have possibly gone wrong, went wrong.
The Chevrons, who were missing some key players because of a pay dispute between the lads and Zimbabwe Cricket, failed to make an impact in the T20 Tri-series against Pakistan and Australia.
The subsequent five-match ODI series against the Asians in Bulawayo saw the hosts whitewashed.
But Rajput insists he can turn it around, further feeding into speculation that the Indian would love having the Chevrons task as a fulltime gig.
Rajput’s assessment of the situation is a chorus many are aware of — most of the national team players are coasting in the comfort zones.
“I think I found them in their comfort zones and I have to take them out,” said the coach who has the team training twice a day ahead of next month’s tours to South Africa and Bangladesh.
“I want them to work hard on the ground, once we have finished you can have your own time and do as you please. I demand total focus during sessions, same with the game, but it should start at practice.”
Rajput revealed that he was also working on the team’s mental strength.
“We have got to put in a lot of hard work and put pressure on the players. We have to work on our fitness, skill and be mentally tough as well.
“South Africa is one of the better teams. They are doing very well, and at home they are a very strong team, but we want to make sure that we do well against them,” he said.
Rajput’s options have been boosted by the return of senior players.
“It’s good to see the senior players- like Graeme Cremer and Brendon Taylor- back,” said the Chevrons coach.
“The team looks much better when you have a mixture of the seniors and the youth. I am confident that with these guys coming in, our performances will improve.
“Obviously as a coach you love to have the best players available…I am really excited to work with them.”
The former India batsman is vastly experienced in coaching with stints as the Afghanistan gaffer, India U19s, Mumbai Indians in the IPL and was India’s team manager when they won the World T20 in 2007.
And his experience should come in handy as he seeks to turn around a Chevrons outfit that has been beyond disappointing in its recent outings.
“I make things turn-around,” said Rajput rather confidently.
“I want to turn around things for Zimbabwe, they are a good bunch of players, but it will take time. I can’t do it overnight.
“The talent is there but the mindset needs to be corrected, I am positive and I am a good mind reader.”
When quizzed about the possibility of taking up the Chevrons job on a permanent basis Rajput said: “I now know the players but it all depends on Zimbabwe Cricket, they are the ones who have to make the decision.”