March 2018
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Ravi Shastri appointed new head coach and Zaheer Khan bowling coach: BCCI
(NEW DELHI,July 11, 2017):Former India allrounder and captain Ravi Shastri, who was team director of the Indian men's cricket team from August 2014 to April 2016, has been appointed as head coach for a two-year period until the end of the 2019 ICC World Cup. Former fast bowling spearhead Zaheer Khan was appointed the bowling coach and former batting great and captain Rahul Dravid was named batting consultant for specific overseas tours.

An email from the BCCI just before 11 pm on Tuesday confirmed the respective appointments.

While Shastri brings with him a wealth of experience, both as player and as coach, Zaheer assumed the mentoring role to a young fast bowling unit even during his playing days with India. His inputs will be of immense value to young Indian fast bowlers, who have shown tremendous potential in the last couple of years. As the Indian team is to play Test cricket overseas in the next two years, Dravid's expertise as batting consultant will be immensely helpful for youngsters.

READ MORE: Zaheer Khan, the best man for the job

Zaheer, who last played international cricket in 2014, is considered to be one of finest exponents of swing bowling India has ever produced.

Having initially not applied for the post, but belatedly joining the fray once the BCCI extended the deadline to accept applications until July 9, the 55-year-old beat out a list of applicants comprising former India opener Virender Sehwag, former Sri Lanka coach and current coach of IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad Tom Moody, current Afghanistan coach Lalchand Rajput and former Pakistan and Bangladesh coach and director of West Indies cricket Richard Pybus.

The news came a day after the BCCI's Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) announced that it would seek Indian captain Virat Kohli's inputs before announcing the man to replace Anil Kumble in the most high-profile coaching role in the sport. Addressing a press conference after a nearly six-hour interview process with the five aforementioned candidates at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai on Monday, CAC member Sourav Ganguly had said that Kohli, who is currently out of the country, had to be apprised of their decision before the next coach could be revealed.

Ganguly and VVS Laxman sat together inside the Wankhede Stadium while Sachin Tendulkar joined via video conference from the UK. Barring Sehwag, none of the applicants were physically present at the BCCI headquarters, instead being interviewed over Skype.

This marks an eventful return to the Indian cricket team setup for Shastri, who last June was overlooked by the CAC for Anil Kumble, and subsequently had a public spat with Ganguly. At the time, Shastri alleged that Ganguly had not been present when he was interviewed via Skype, to which Ganguly replied that Shastri should have taken the interview more seriously and been in India to apply in person before the CAC.

The news of Shastri's appointment as head coach will not surprise many, given his work as team director for an 18-month period and the relationship he shares with Kohli and other members of the team. The former allrounder turned TV commentator and analyst, who played 80 Tests and 150 ODIs and led India in one Test, was brought in by the BCCI in August 2014 as team director in England following defeat in the Tests. Shastri's term - and that of his three assistant coaches, Sanjay Bangar Bharat Arun and R Sridhar - was extended until the end of the 2015 World Cup by the BCCI working committee, and then again until the end of the World Twenty20 in March-April last year. Under Shastri, the Indian team made it to the semi-final stage of five consecutive global tournaments, rose to No 1 in the ICC Test rankings for eight weeks and beat Australia in Australia in a landmark 3-0 T20I series.

Last month, Shastri threw his name into contention for the vacant coach's role after the BCCI, in the aftermath of Kumble's resignation, decided to invite more applicants despite criticism by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators.

The BCCI in May, just days ahead of the Indian cricket team's defence of the ICC Champions Trophy title, advertised for the head coach's job but "endorsed and extension" to Kumble's one-year deal. Kohli denied reports of a rift with Kumble, who proceeded to step down as head coach after a year in charge, because his "partnership" with the captain was "untenable". In his statement of resignation, Kumble said that the BCCI had "attempted to resolve the misunderstandings" but felt it was "best to move on".

Kumble's resignation came less than two days after India were beaten by Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final. Under Kumble, India won Test series against West Indies, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia to cement their place as the No 1 team in the ICC Test Championship, as well as limited-overs series over New Zealand and England.

Interestingly, Shastri had been vocally critical when the CAC had last year approved Kumble for the coach's role.

Though Ganguly yesterday stated that the current Indian team support staff would travel to Sri Lanka for the tour that comprises three Tests, five ODIs and one T20I, it is expected that Shastri will link up with the squad before its departure. The first Test starts in Galle on July 26, followed by matches at the SSC in Colombo from August 3 and Pallekele from August 12. The ODIs will be played on August 20, 24, 27, 31 and September 3, and the T20I on September 6.

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