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INDIA TARGET KIRSTEN

gary_kirsten_2003_601375.jpgFormer South Africa batsman Gary Kirsten has emerged as the front-runner to fill the vacant role of India coach.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed Kirsten was interviewed on Monday by their coach selection panel, which includes former captains Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and S Venkataraghavan, joint secretary MP Pandove, treasurer N Srinivasan and secretary Niranjan Shah.

The post has been vacant since Australian Greg Chappell resigned following India’s first-round exit from the World Cup in March and the new coach is expected to be confirmed inside a week.

“Kirsten was interviewed by the committee on Monday in Delhi,” said BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla. “The BCCI will make a formal announcement about the new coach in a week’s time.

“BCCI president Sharad Pawar had said that the coach will be decided in about 10 days, and in keeping with his wish, the coach selection panel has expedited the process. The Indian team will definitely have a coach before it embarks on the tour of Australia next month.”

The Indian team has had interim managers since the tour of Bangladesh in May, with Lalchand Rajput in charge for their triumphant Twenty20 World Cup campaign in September and the ongoing series against Pakistan.

The BCCI has already interviewed South African Graham Ford and former England bowler John Emburey, with Ford turning down the job in June to remain at Kent.

The BCCI has since advertised the post, receiving more than 20 applications, but the board has been keen to avoid the media furore which greeted Ford and Emburey and managed to keep the Kirsten interview under wraps.

Kirsten, 40, played in 101 Tests and 185 one-day internationals for South Africa in an 11-year international career which ended in 2004, although he has little coaching experience.

India currently lead a three-Test series with Pakistan having won the opening Test in Delhi. The second Test in Kolkata begins on Friday.

India’s tour of Australia begins on December 20 and includes four Test matches, a Twenty20 international and an ODI series also featuring Sri Lanka.

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