The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) have extended Chevrons coach Lalchand Rajput’s contract, ending months of speculation over the Indian expatriate’s tenure with the senior men’s side.
Rajput is now expected to guide the Chevrons until 2023.
Pressure was mounting on the coach following a string of poor results in his “rebuilding exercise’’, which saw him winning 12 T20 Internationals, six One-Day Internationals and two Test matches in 69 outings.
There was heightened speculation on the future of the 59-year-old at the beginning of the month when ZC appointed Chevrons legend Dave Houghton to a newly created post of coaching manager.
Houghton is an experienced coach and his new task was largely seen as a ploy by ZC to prepare the former Zimbabwe batter to take over the Chevrons job.
However, after being charmed by Rajput’s rebuilding exercise, which they believe has been going according to plan, ZC have since rewarded him with a new contract that will run until the 2023 World Cup in Australia.
The Chevrons coach is naturally delighted as he feels he still has unfinished business with the national team, especially after starting a programme to infuse new and younger talent into the national team.
“I am happy to have my contract extended until the 2023 World Cup. I still have unfinished business with the national team since we had started the rebuilding exercise, and I am thankful to the ZC board for giving me an opportunity to finish what I started,” said Rajput, who is currently enjoying a break in his home country.
“I am happy with the confidence that ZC has shown me; it gives me a sense of belonging to the team and I will do my best to make the team one of the best.”
His target is to help the national team qualify for the 2022 T20 World Cup before taking aim at the 2023 ODI World Cup.
“My main objective now is for us (Zimbabwe) to qualify for the 2022 T20 World Cup and the 2023 World Cup, and I believe with the work that we have done so far and the team we are assembling, we can achieve our objectives.”
He also spoke of his disappointment of being reduced to a mere spectator of the ongoing T20 World Cup.
“We won against Scotland, Ireland and it is really painful to be watching the tournament at home. I feel we were good enough to be part of this year’s T20 World Cup, hence our target is to make sure that we will be part of the cast.”
Rajput believes the return of club cricket will help him build a formidable and competitive side as he seeks to accomplish his targets.
“I have been following the Logan Cup and I am excited that there is a lot of talent being exhibited at the games.
“The games give the coach and the selectors wider options in selecting players, and I am also happy for the players now that they are getting more game time.
“Game time is very important if we are to compete at the highest level and I am happy that our players are getting it now.”
This first order of business after his new contract will be in December when the Chevrons host Afghanistan.