Right after Anil Kumble shocked the cricket fraternity with his decision to quit as India's cricket coach following his reported rift with Virat Kohli, rumours mills started churning out names of candidates favourite for the coach.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) got its timing absolutely wrong when it called for applications for the head coach role just before India's Champions Trophy campaign even when Kumble was at the helm.
Only Virender Sehwag, Tom Moody, Lalchand Rajput, Dodda Ganesh and Richard Pybus were the ones to have applied for the job initially before BCCI invited applications, drawing criticism from quite a few, including Rajput, who had applied for the coach's role for the second successive time after failing to make the cut in 2016 when Kumble won the job.
Ravi Shastri, who was also among the candidates to have conceded to Kumble last term, joined the race along with unnamed South African legend and Phil Simmons, the former West Indies coach.
A lot is being said about how Shastri and Sehwag, former India greats who have a close association with the players, are frontrunners for the high-profile job.
And after BCCI CEO Rahul Johri recently flew all the way to Jamaica to meet Kohli and his men to get their ideas on the new coach, not many are willing to place their bets on anyone, whose name is not Shastri.
Despite all the speculations about frontrunners and Kohli's favourite, the Cricket Advisory Committee, consisting Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, have to sit with the candidates on July 10 and assess their credentials before zeroing in on one.
Keeping aside foreign names, including Moody, who has had a lot of success in the Indian Premier League with Sunrisers Hyderabad, if the CAC opts to go for solid credentials to decide between the local candidates, Rajput emerges the clear winner.
The 55-year-old has only played two Test matches and five ODIs for India, but he has a wealth of experience as coach at various levels.
Not shying away from flaunting his credentials, Rajput says: "I am a qualified coach and I have proved my worth when India won the World T20 in 2007. For the last year I have been coaching the Afghanistan team and they have been doing really well at the international level. Afghanistan has recently been granted Test status, which is another feather in my cap as coach," as quoted by Rediff.com.
If MS Dhoni is being credited for India's inaugural World T20 triumph in 2007, Rajput also deserves recognition for his contribution as team manager during the campaign. The former Mumbai batsman was appointed after the Men in Blue's disastrous World Cup campaign in the year and was handed over the reins of the team following Greg Chappell's controversial exit.
Rajput, supported by fielding coach Sanjay Bangar and bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad, worked well with a young Indian team, led by Dhoni, who took charge of the team for the first time in his career. The veteran was also at the helm of the team, which went on the controversy-ridden tour to Australia in 2007-08. Notably, Dhoni's men went on to defeat Sri Lanka and Australia to clinch the Commonwealth Bank tri-series Down Under on the trip.
Rajput has gone on to only become a better tactician as he has produced some stunning results with the Afghanistan cricket team, which was recently handed the Test status. Appointed in 2016 as the head coach of Mohammad Nabi's unit, the former India cricketer has won a lot of praise for the Asian minnow's recent success.
Well, Rajput seems to be a man, who has keenly followed what had transpired between Kohli and Kumble. The veteran cricketer hints us how he will be approaching the role and also about the much-talked-about aspect of handling Kohli and the rest if he is appointed the coach.
"The key is that you should keep your ego aside, whether you are the coach or a player. For a coach, it is important to have good man management skills. At the international level, it is about man management because at that level you won't be teaching a top player like Virat Kohli how to play a cover drive," Rajput added.