The Sunday Mail
CHEVRONS coach Lalchand Rajput left for India midway through the fourth and final ODI against UAE last Tuesday, to be with his family.
The job had been done already and Zimbabwe’s World Cup 2019 qualification heart-breakers cleanly swept away, pun intended.
However, neither of these were the real reason why Rajput left early and before the conclusion of the match.
“His traveling arrangements had been made before the UAE tour was confirmed, so we didn’t see the need to change his flight since it was the last ODI,” explained Zimbabwe Cricket acting managing director Givemore Makoni.
“He hasn’t seen his family is five months, as he has been here throughout the domestic season as per the requirements of his contract.
“He will be back when the national team camp starts next month,” said Makoni.
While a reasonable explanation; it would have made a telling story had the 57-year-old left out of cockiness rather than anything else.
After all, the Chevrons’ gaffer has done reasonably well since taking over last year.
It’s been eleven months since Rajput succeeded Heath Streak at the helm of the Zimbabwe senior cricket team and eight months since his appointment as full-time coach.
And during that time, the 57-year-old Indian has displayed a serious work ethic and has fairly enjoyed some success.
The beginning was tough, starting as an interim coach last June when Australia and Pakistan visited for a T20 tri-series with the Asians remaining for a five-match ODI series.
Zimbabwe lost all the matches of the two series.
Rajput was later given the job as full time coach in August and Zimbabwe toured South Africa for three ODIs and as many T20s in September.
Again, they lost all.
His greatest result to date was to come in October when Zimbabwe drew the Test series 1-1 in Bangladesh.
The Chevrons won the first Test by 151 runs thus winning their first Test match away from home in 17 years.
“We are making good progress, like we have beaten UAE, a team we are expected to beat and we shouldn’t forget how we conquered Bangladesh in a place where some top teams have perished,” commented Makoni.
“So it shows the coach is doing something right,” he said.
PJ Moor, who was acting captain for the UAE series, appreciates Rajput’s approach to the game.
“He has been very different to previous coaches I have worked under,” said Moor.
“He obviously has a lot of cricket coaching experience, having been involved with some top sides around the world like the Mumbai Indians, India U19s and Afghanistan.
“So he brings a lot of expertise. His approach is very thorough in regards to our training and his focus is always on winning,” said Moor.