Former India coach Lalchand Rajput says Gautam Gambhir is the right candidate to take Indian cricket forward since he is a shrewd tactician, a no-nonsense guy and someone who adds value to the set up being a two-time World Cup winner. Although it is not known if Gambhir has officially applied for the India coach post, it is being speculated that he may replace Rahul Dravid in the high-pressure position after the T20 World Cup. The deadline to apply for the job ended on May 27.

“Gambhir is a no-nonsense guy, he has played cricket the hard way and he reads the game well and that has been seen for KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) as well,” Rajput, who coached India to T20 World Cup win in 2007, told PTI in an exclusive interaction on Tuesday.

Rajput cited the example of Kolkata Knight Riders’s winning run at the IPL.

“KKR was the same team last year and you see the difference that he made this year. He is a shrewd tactician as well,” said Rajput, the director of cricket for Jabalpur Lions in the upcoming Madhya Pradesh T20 League (MPT20) the Scindia Cup.

Rajput said Gambhir’s experience as a two-time World Cup winning Indian player would also come handy.

“I am sure with all his experience — he has won two World Cup (wins) as a player — that will really add value. He is a good candidate, but it all depends upon BCCI who they want. He will be the right candidate to take Indian cricket forward,” Rajput added.

The former India opener drew comparisons between India’s squads from the 2007 World T20 winning side with the current squad in the Americas, saying having experienced players in the side is paramount.

“You got to have some experience as well. We can’t just go with the fairly new (side) because in World Cup, pressure is also there,” he said.

“You should have some senior guys and along with that the juniors because they have to complement each other. Even if you look at our 2007 squad, there were seniors like (Virender) Sehwag, Gambhir, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan (Singh), RP Singh, Yuvraj Singh…” “Yes, there were youngsters like Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa and even Dinesh Karthik — there was a good mixture (and) it complemented well,” he said.

Rajput said it would be a headache to select India’s playing XI but backed Rishabh Pant as the wicketkeeper-batter and Virat Kohli as the opener.

“It is a headache to get to the final XI because everybody has been performing well. But wicket-keeping choice, definitely, Pant is the frontrunner because there is no other second thought,” he said.

“It is the only thing that who will open, if (Yashasvi) Jaiswal opens, then your balance becomes a little bit (off), then you can’t play both Hardik Pandya and Shivam Dube.” “Looking at the balance, Virat Kohli opens, then you can have Suryakumar (Yadav) at No. 3, then No 4. can be Pant. At five, Hardik Pandya, No. 6 will be Shivam Dube,” he added.

Rajput urged the Indian team to think positively and not about the end result as they chase an elusive ICC trophy.

“The main thing is that you don’t have to take any pressure because in T20 format you got to go there and express yourself.” Rajput said Madhya Pradesh having its own league, starting June 15, would bring more opportunities to the players of the state.

“The tournament is very good because every state association has got their own premier league. It gives the opportunity for the players to showcase their talent,” he said.

“It gives the players to get an opportunity to perform so that they can be picked for the IPL as well,” Rajput added. PTI DDV AT AT

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