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Rajput relishing Zim challenge

FORMER India batsman Lalchand Rajput will arrive in Zimbabwe in the first week of June after committing to coaching the national team on an interim basis.

BY TRISTAN HOLME

While Zimbabwe Cricket [ZC] had appeared to jump the gun by announcing Rajput as coach before the 56-year-old had signed a contract, Rajput told Cricbuzz on Friday that he was now on board.

“It’s a very good cricket country. A lot of great players have come from there,” Rajput said of Zimbabwe. “I always feel that I like challenges. I was with Afghanistan and they made a turnaround and got Test status. When I was with Afghanistan we played against Zimbabwe and beat them in ODIs and T20s, so I know a few of their players.

“I felt that it’s good for me as well as them to use my services so that I can make a difference to the team. I can’t change things overnight, but I can definitely prepare them to play better than how they have been performing. The main thing is consistency.”

Rajput will conclude his current business at India’s National Cricket Academy before traveling to Zimbabwe, where he will have just one month to prepare the players for a Twenty20 triangular series against Australia and Pakistan.

The former India international sought the opinions of people with recent experience of Zimbabwe cricket before confirming that he would take the role on an initial three-month contract.

One obvious concern was whether nationally-contracted players would be available for the tri-series.

Recently they approached ZC through a lawyer to demand clarity on when their outstanding wages would be paid, suggesting the tri-series would be in “serious jeopardy” if salaries and match fees went unpaid.

Those concerns eased on Wednesday when ZC chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani met with the players at Takashinga.

According to those who were present at the meeting, which coincided with the final day of the Logan Cup season, Mukuhlani told the players that ZC had secured a loan from a local bank that would allow players to receive their money in instalments from the end of May.

Players have not been paid their salaries for March or April, while national players are owed match fees dating back to July last year.
—Cricbuzz

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