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Whatmore deal to coach India

Former Australia Test batsman Dav Whatmore is expected to meet Indian cricket officials tomorrow to finalise the deal that will see him replace Greg Chappell as the country's coach.

Whatmore will hold talks with cabinet minister Sharad Pawar, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, during the second day of the first India-Bangladesh Test in the port city of Chittagong.

Whatmore, who spent much of his childhood in Sri Lanka and has a successful coaching record with both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, has indicated he is keen on the Indian job despite the challenges that confronted Chappell in working with difficult players.

Last night, Whatmore was quoted as saying: "To coach India will be a challenge and if given an opportunity I will try to give my best.

"I have been approached by the Indian board and let's see how it works out."

Whatmore's contract with Bangladesh finishes at the end of the series against India.

The BCCI is said to have homed in on Whatmore when it became clear Tom Moody, the highly regarded Sri Lanka coach, had decided to return home to Western Australia.

In his efforts to find a replacement for Chappell, Pawar has been assisted by a panel of three - Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, the stand-in manager-cum-coach, and Srinivas Venkataraghavan. They have set themselves a deadline of tomorrow for finalising their search.

Whatmore said last night that Shastri had spoken to him and that there had been an informal chat about his taking on the job. "Ravi did talk to me but it is not for me to discuss it," he said.

Pakistan's no less troubled cricket board had also shown interest in hiring Whatmore following the death of Bob Woolmer, but last night Whatmore said: "I wasn't thinking about it."

All the signs are that Whatmore has deeply impressed the BCCI, which recalls his success in leading Sri Lanka to World Cup victory in 1996. India would dearly love to see him do the same for its lacklustre team.

The influential newspaper The Times of India yesterday supported the appointment of another Australian coach, declaring: "Whatmore is supported because of his successful record as a coach of Asian sides for which man-management is just as important a pre-requisite as teaching of cricketing techniques and strategies."

If Whatmore does get the India job, it will be no cakewalk.

Most agree the challenges will be enormous, with the BCCI's expectations undiminished despite the ignominious performance at the World Cup.

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