The whip has been unleashed. And Sulakshan Kulkarni looks set to be the first casualty.
Less than a week after Mumbai’s shocking defeat to Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal, the 47-year-old’s 28-month tenure as coach is all but over. The technical committee of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), which met on Thursday, “unanimously decided to request and recommend to the managing committee the name of Lalchand Rajput to take over as the coach” for the domestic one-dayers (Vijay Hazare Trophy) and T20 (Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy) tournaments.
Rajput, who in his capacity as interim manager, had famously guided Team India to glory at the inaugural World T20 in 2007 as well as the tri-series in Australia (2008), now works at the BCCI-run batting academy in Bandra-Kurla Complex. “The MCA has approached me and I will be happy to take over as Mumbai coach. But this is subject to clearance from the BCCI,” Rajput told dna. For the record, Rajput was present at Thursday’s meeting. “In any case, the MCA has asked me to guide the team for the remainder of the season. They will hire someone else for the next season,” he added.
Shockingly, Kulkarni was not even informed about his (imminent) sacking. “I am sorry but I can’t comment on this because I have not received any communication from MCA,” the former Mumbai wicketkeeper-batsman told this paper.
Kulkarni’s Mumbai record in Ranji Trophy — Played: 29, Won: 9, Drawn: 18, Lost: 2 — is impressive. What, perhaps, earned him the sack was his horrible man-management skills. The likes of Ajit Agarkar (retired earlier this season), Ramesh Powar (migrated to Rajasthan) and many others had issues with Kulkarni. “Better late than never. Can’t believe they waited till he messed up the team,” was how a senior Mumbai player reacted.
It is also understood that Milind Rege is the frontrunner for the post of chief selector.