The wait is finally over! No, really, it is.
Ravi Shastri has been appointed as the head coach of the India cricket team. The 55-year-old former all-rounder has been handed a two-year contract, which will keep him at the helm of the Virat Kohli-led Indian team till the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Former India pacer Zaheer Khan joins the dressing room as the bowling coach, while U19 and India A coach Rahul Dravid has been handed the additional responsibility of being batting consultant to Virat Kohli's men on away tours.
Zaheer and Dravid will also work with the team until the 2019 World Cup, which will be held in England. Acting president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) CK Khanna confirmed the appointments on Tuesday after quite a few reports in the early evening suggested Shastri had been named the successor of Anil Kumble.
BCCI swiftly stepped in and insisted no decision had been made over the appointment of a new coach, only to confirm it a few hours late, via their acting president, according to ANI.
The three men -- Shastri, Dravid, and Zaheer -- will join Sanjay Bangar, who has been working with the Indian team as batting coach since 2016.
Rahul Dravid appointed as overseas batting coach. Tenure of R Shastri, Z Khan & R Dravid will be till 2019 World Cup: Acting Pres CK Khanna— ANI (@ANI_news) July 11, 2017
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had invited applications for the high-profile job even when Anil Kumble was at the helm of the team during India's Champions Trophy campaign.
However, following the reported rift between Kohli and the former leg-spinner, the latter decided to step down immediately -- after India's defeat to Pakistan in the final of the quadrennial tournament, calling the player-coach relationship "untenable".
Meanwhile, the three-member CAC had informed after the five-hour-long interview in Mumbai yesterday that the announcement of Kumble's successor would be deferred to a later date. Saying there was no hurry to finish the process, Ganguly said the committee would discuss the appointment with skipper Kohli before announcing the new coach to avoid a repeat of Kohli-Kumble saga.
CoA's role in early announcement
However, the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) earlier today had asked the BCCI not to delay the process and announce the name as early as possible. Ganguly reportedly was surprised at CoA's move as he felt they had kept the three-member committee in the loop before deciding to wait for Kohli's return from a holiday in the United States.
Ganguly though said he would talk to Kohli via conference call if the CoA stuck to its decision and emphasised it was important to consult the captain before taking a final call.
It was believed that Shastri was Kohli's favourite due to the strong bond they shared during the former's stint as Team Director. However, Kumble was preferred over the World Cup-winning all-rounder at the end of a similar interview process last year.
Kumble seemed to be the CAC's unanimous choice and under the former India leg-spinner, India produced solid results and went on to dominate Test matches at home, which saw Kohli's men climb to the top of the International Cricket Council Test ladder.
As it turned out, the CAC seemed to have been quite cautious with their approach while selecting the India coach as they wanted to avoid another unfavourable situation in the dressing room, with very little time left for the next edition of the Cricket World Cup.
Despite the much-publicised rift between Shastri and Ganguly, which emerged after last year's interview process, the former had stressed that there was no animosity between the two and the CAC would follow due process while selecting the coach.
Shastri is more than Kohli's favourite
Apart from being Kohli and his men's choice, Shastri's proven results with the cricket team have likely helped him seal the job. Notably, the former India captain took over when a young Indian team was struggling to produce results abroad.
However, Kohli and his side developed a fighting attitude, which was evident when India, under Shastri, impressed in the four-match Test series Down Under in the 2014-15 season. The Men in Blue also went on to reach the semi-final of the Cricket World Cup in 2015.
Under Shastri, India also clinched a Test series win in Sri Lanka after 22 years in 2015. The win was, in more than one way, special as Kohli's men fought back after losing the first Test of the three-match series in Galle.
Another historic win came with Shastri at the helm when the team defeated Australia 3-0 in a Twenty20 series early last year.