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India

Ravi Shastri all but certain to stay as India head coach

Dwelling more on the leaks, it is now more or less decided, like in case of Shastri, that he would have a new batting coach by the name of Vikram Rathour, replacing Sanjay Bangar.

As the three-member Cricket Advisory Committee led by former India World Cup-winning skipper Kapil Dev sit down on Friday to pick one amongst the six candidates for the head coach, it will have a huge task to pick the right candidate to control and train the richest team in the world.

But even before the panel, which also includes former India opener Anshuman Gaekwad and former India women's team captain Shantha Rangaswamy, could sit and deliberate through the presentations made by all six, a general perception has been created amongst cricket fans that "it's just a one-horse race with Ravi Shastri is all set for another stint".

Try talking to anyone in the present set-up of BCCI and one gets an impression that no one has the courage to go against the wishes of skipper Virat Kohli, who openly endorsed the man he got as per his own wishes during that earlier spat with the then head coach Anil Kumble.

"Who else than Ravi," was the reply DNA got from at least two senior BCCI officials closely involved in day-to-day functioning under Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators.

When further asked that COA had clearly advised the CAC to not take skipper Kohli in the loop while selecting the next head coach, there was a laughter and then a reply. "Who do you think is responsible for the leaks about only one candidate favourite for the job?"

This is another matter that it was widely believed within the BCCI circles that Shastri's stint with the team ended with the semifinal defeat at the recent World Cup. But the things changed dramatically once Kohli and a strong lobby controlling BCCI currently started lobbying for him again with a well-rehearsed slogan that "Team India doesn't need any foreign coach at this point of time".

Well, then why is this so-called presentation being called in for?

"That too happened when Australia Greg Chappell was given weightage ahead of Mohinder Amarnath despite the latter having a better presentation. BCCI wanted a foreign coach then, and the demand is for a home-grown coach now," was the answer.

"And who wants a coach in the dressing room. That job is done by the support staff – bowling, batting and fielding coaches – and the job of the head coach to this generation of cricketers is to motivate and manage the affairs of players and take outside pressure," said the official.

Apart from Shastri, the other big names in the race are former Australia all-rounder Tom Moody, ex-New Zealand and Kings XI Punjab coach Mike Hesson, India's 2007 World T20-winning cricket manager Lalchand Rajput, former Mumbai Indians head coach Robin Singh and West Indies' Phil Simmons, who until recently was Afghanistan national team coach.

Shastri is expected to appear via video conference while others will try and impress the CAC by making personal presentation.

Dwelling more on the leaks, it is now more or less decided, like in case of Shastri, that he would have a new batting coach by the name of Vikram Rathour, replacing Sanjay Bangar. The former Punjab skipper and India opener Rathour is hand-picked by none other than the lobby led by former BCCI president Anurag Thakur.

Having been associated with Thakur's controlled Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association as Director, Rathour's serious conflict of interest was ignored by the same COA when he was appointed as coach of India's Under-19 squad early this year.

For the record, the interviews for batting, bowling and fielding coaches will be conducted by the selection committee headed by MSK Prasad. And it will be interesting to see whether they pick fielding coach R Sridhar ahead of legendary fielder Jonty Rhodes, ignoring the patchy fielding performances of team during the failed WC campaign.

Bowling coach Bharat Arun's position, however, looks to be safe after recent performances by Indian speedsters.

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