MUMBAI: Of the six candidates who have been shortlisted for the role of the head coach of the Indian national team, incumbent Ravi Shastri has once again turned out to be the clear favourite for the job and is all set to retain his position.

Be it experience in number of matches played at the highest level, seniority in terms of age, backing of the entire team and a good record over the last two years, Shastri seems to have ticked all the right boxes and will be named head coach for a two-year term on Friday when the three-member Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) led by Kapil Dev sits down to take the final call.
The race, over the coming week, will be for the role of the batting coach where 12 candidates, including incumbent Sanjay Bangar, are in the fray and the national selection committee, led by MSK Prasad, will take the final call.
Of the 12 candidates, Jalandhar-born 50-year-old Vikram Rathour — who has caught the eye of none other than India’s junior national coach and National Cricket Academy (NCA) director Rahul Dravid — is turning out to be the popular choice among some big names.
The likes of former England batsmen Jonathan Trott and Mark Ramprakash, former India first-class stalwarts Amol Muzumdar and Hrishikesh Kanitkar and lone Sri Lankan Thilan Samaraweera, senior coaches Pravin Amre and Lalchand Rajput from Mumbai, and Bangar are among the 12 candidates who have applied for the position.
TOI understands that the Indian team is very clear they “want an Indian in the role” and not a foreigner. The reasons for such a line of thinking rests on ease in communication.
“The only thing CAC needs to consider is that the individual should be an Indian, who understands our language and precepts,” said sources.
And in that Rathour is turning out to be the front-runner, given the overall appreciation he has earned in the domestic circuit as (former) national selector and coach.
Thrice in the past, the Committee of Administrators (COA) has held back Rathour’s appointment as batting coach at the NCA and later India ‘A’ owing to ‘conflict of interest’.

Said a source, “The COA, however, has never specified what the conflict is. That he is related to former BCCI president Anurag Thakur? How is it even a conflict? Just because you’re related to someone, your qualifications or experience shouldn’t matter?”
Where the bowling coach is concerned, incumbent Bharat Arun has eight other applicants for company, including Darren Gough from England, former India bowler and junior selector Venkatesh Prasad among others.
“If anyone has done an excellent job with a national team’s bowling attack in recent years, it is Bharat Arun. Look at the transformation the Indian team has gone through. India’s pace attack is the best in the world. Young spinners enjoy great confidence. They were the backbone of India’s fight over the last two years,” say those tracking developments.
While Arun remains a firm favourite to get retained, a call also has to be taken on the fielding coach and those in the fray are R Sridhar, Jonty Rhodes and Abhay Sharma. “Sridhar has shown results and you can’t ignore Rhodes. That’s a tough call. The CAC would have otherwise not considered a foreigner, but this is Jonty Rhodes we’re talking about. So let’s see,” sources say.