Lalchand Rajput is as busy as Mahendra Singh Dhoni these days. While India’s one-day captain was resting after the Australia series, Rajput, the current cricket manager, hopped to Ahmedabad to take charge of the India Red team for the Challenger Series.
Wasting little time after the completion of the Challengers, he rushed back to Mumbai from where he took another flight to New Delhi where President Pratibha Patil will felicitate the India T20 team on Tuesday.
In between his hectic schedule, Rajput took time off to speak to Hindustan Times. Excerpts:
Six weeks into the job, how has the experience been so far?
Fantastic. Being associated with the Indian team is an honour and it’s been a marvellous experience. For an aspiring coach, to be involved in the triumphant World Twenty20 campaign was a wonderful experience.
Then we hosted the world champions. It was a very tough series. I think we did really well.
Although the score-line read 4-2 but it could easily have been 3-3. I realise there’s no place for ifs and buts...there were a lot of positives.
You’ve also been given responsibility for the Pakistan series…
India-Pakistan matches are always crunch games. We have to raise our games, and the same goes for them. I am really looking forward to the series. I think whichever team keeps its nerves will emerge as the winner.
Do you think India are favourites in the series?
We are the favourites because we are playing at home and Inzamam-ul Haq has retired.
Having said that, Inzy hasn’t been part of their ODI set-up for a while now and, just like us, they have some very good youngsters.
What is the difference between managing a first-class or a national junior side and the senior national side?
There is not much difference. The coach has to play the same role. But at the junior level, one has to be forthright and keep on interacting with players.
The youngsters are fickle, so you need to keep discussing various aspects with them. The seniors are mature and know their game well. Man-management becomes the most important aspect.
Do players listen to a cricket manager who is appointed on a series to series basis?
I have had a very good experience so far. Most of the players have listened to me, probably because most of them have either been groomed by me or have played under me.
A section in Indian cricket feels there aren’t any international standard coaches in India...
I am sure there are a lot of capable international coaches in India. But it would be unfair to judge any one of them without giving him a fair run.