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Shastri Named India Cricket Coach

by AFP

Munir uz Zaman—AFP

Zaheer Khan and Rahul Dravid appointed as new bowling and batting consultants, respectively

Former captain Ravi Shastri was on Tuesday named the new head coach of India for a two-year period, ending weeks of speculation over the high-profile job after Anil Kumble’s dramatic exit.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India also appointed ex-paceman Zaheer Khan as the bowling consultant and Rahul Dravid as batting consultant for Tests in overseas tours.

“The term of the appointments will be till the World Cup 2019,” the BCCI said in a late night release.

An advisory panel comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman “conducted the interviews and recommended these appointments in the best interest” of the Indian cricket.

Shastri, 55, edged out a host of rival high-profile names in batting great Virender Sehwag, Australia’s Tom Moody, Englishman Richard Pybus and former India manager Lalchand Rajput, who were interviewed in Mumbai on Monday.

The cricketer-turned-commentator lost out on the coveted post to Kumble in 2016 and only entered the race after the spin legend quit last month and the BCCI extended the date for applications. Kumble resigned after his one-year term ended with the 50-over Champions Trophy in England and Wales, terming his relationship with skipper Virat Kohli as “untenable.”

Shastri was always the frontrunner for the job with pundits pointing to his time as India’s team director from 2014-16 and warm relationship with Kohli as points in his favor. “Mr. Shastri has been the Team Director in the past, and brings with him a wealth of experience, both as player and as coach,” the BCCI said.

However, Shastri’s appointment saw some added drama when the advisory panel insisted on consulting Kohli before naming their preferred candidate, while a Supreme Court-appointed committee overseeing BCCI affairs pressed on the need to announce the coach soon. It is not clear whether Kohli, who is currently in the U.S., was consulted.

Meanwhile Zaheer, 38, who has no formal coaching experience, has been a vital part of his Indian Premier League team Delhi Daredevils’ strategizing unit as well as being the captain of the side.

Zaheer, who has taken 311 wickets in 92 Tests for India during his 14-year-long career, has been one of the best exponents of the art of reverse swing bowling in recent times.

Former captain Dravid recently gave up his position as the Daredevils mentor, after accepting a two-year contract to coach India A and Under-19 teams and the BCCI said his expertise “will be immensely helpful for youngsters.”

The 44-year-old Dravid, nicknamed ‘The Wall’ during his illustrious career where he scored 13,288 runs in 164 Tests, was one of the most technically skilled batsmen of modern-day cricket.

India’s upcoming tour of Sri Lanka starting with the first of the three Tests on July 26 will be the new coaching team’s first assignment.

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