Rajput prepares for test of character

THE Zimbabwe Cricket team’s interim coach Lalchand Rajput appears to be a man of few words.

The 56-year-old, who was appointed in May, conducted his first training session last Wednesday at Harare Sports Club.

Clad in his black and green Zimbabwe kit, a red floppy hat and matching shades, the former Afghanistan coach was hands on as the Chevrons prepared for next week’s T20 tri-series featuring hosts Zimbabwe, Australia and Pakistan.

“You spinners are talking too much, no talking while bowling, you talk after,” the Indian gaffer could be heard ordering his spinners during a net session.

Rajput is expected to address the media for the first time in a press conference tomorrow where the final 15 men to play in the tri-series will also be announced.

“I can confirm that we have a 22-men training squad which will be whittled down to 15 on Monday.

“The coach will also address the media for the first time on that day,” said Zimbabwe Cricket Communications and Media manager Darlington Majonga. With his note-board in hand, the Zimbabwe coach took time to talk to individual players whenever he felt the need to.

He could be seen correcting Chamu Chibhabha, who was facing spinners in one of the nets and from there he engaged in a chat with his assistants Douglas Hondo and Shepherd Makunura. Rajput also found time to talk to the net-bowlers.

“Have you guys warmed up? Please get ready to bowl,” he said with a smile.

For the better part of the session, he was standing alone concentrating on the net battles between bowlers and batsmen.

After two hours of practice, the players were dismissed after a range-hitting session where the likes of Tarisai Musakanda, Ryan Murray, Hamilton Masakadza and Malcolm Waller timed the ball very well.

Rajput ambled towards the changing rooms, arms behind and head bowed, perhaps pondering what formula will work against the Australians and Pakistanis next week.

Meanwhile, Australia and Pakistan are expected in the country this week for the tri-series

The visiting countries are expected this Thursday for the T20 series, which will be followed by a five-match ODI series between Zimbabwe and Pakistan in Bulawayo from July 13 to 22.

“It’s not every day that you have two of the best T20 sides coming to Zimbabwe, this is an opportunity to show what we’ve got as a nation,” said Majonga.

“We are ready to host them, we have been putting everything in place,” he said, The Tri-series’ first match is between the hosts Zimbabwe and Pakistan in what will be a 10th T20 meeting between them. Pakistan has won all previous meetings.

Two days later, Zimbabwe will take on the Aussies whom they have beaten in their only T20 match meeting, a five wicket triumph during the inaugural World T20 Cup in South Africa in 2007.

And after the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, the tri-series presents the Chevrons with a chance to work their way back into the hearts of Zimbabweans.

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