India are gearing up to announce their next head coach. Former captain Kapil Dev and his Cricket Advisory Committee made up of former coach Anshuman Gaekwad and former women's captain Shanta Rangaswamy are conducting meetings with the candidates and are expected to make a final call on Friday evening. ESPNcricinfo understands that the shortlist shrunk from six candidates to five on Friday, with Phil Simmons pulling out of the race.
The Kapil-led CAC had been formed after the previous panel comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman had to be disbanded owing to BCCI Ethics Officer finding the last two subject to conflicts of interest under the new constitution of the board. Incidentally, a conflict complaint has been lodged against all three members of the Kapil-led CAC with the BCCI's ethics officer DK Jain yet to give a verdict.
In fact, the former India women captain, Diana Edulji, who sits on the three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), the supervisory authority of the BCCI, was against the formation of the Kapil-led CAC saying the CoA did not have the powers to appoint the ad-hoc panel. However, her two other CoA colleagues, Vinod Rai and Ravindra Thodge, approved the Kapil-led CAC even though Jain has not yet given his clearance.
Of the candidates appearing in front of the CAC, Shastri, who is in the West Indies with the India squad, was the last to take his interview. Here's a quick look at everyone still in the running.
The incumbent and the favourite. Shastri has been on the job since the end of the Champions Trophy in 2017 and received strong and public endorsement three weeks ago when India's captain Virat Kohli backed him to keep the job. India were ranked No. 1 in Tests and ODIs at various times during Shastri's last tenure, made it to the World Cup semi-final and beat Australia in Australia for the first time in Test history.
The strategist. You might have noticed him on cricket broadcasts explaining how teams could go about getting players like Kane Williamson out. Well, imagine that info going directly to the Indian dressing room. Hesson coached New Zealand to the World Cup final in 2015 and is widely considered to be quite astute at reading conditions and helping his players adapt to them. New Zealand showed that during the World T20 in 2016 when they went into their opening game on a rank turner without their two best bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee and bowled India out for 79.
The franchise heavyweight. Moody's been everywhere. He led Sunrisers Hyderabad to their first IPL title in 2016. He's been with Rangpur Riders in Bangladesh, Multan Sultans in Pakistan, Melbourne Renegades in Australia (as director of cricket) and has been sought after in international cricket as well. He was coach of Sri Lanka for a while and was in line to take charge of England before losing out to Trevor Bayliss.
Four-time IPL champion. He's been with Mumbai Indians for nearly a decade and that trophy cabinet keeps getting bigger. Robin has also worked with the Indian team previously - he was the fielding coach when they won the inaugural World T20 in 2007. Outside of that he's had stints with India's Under-19 and A teams, the Hong Kong national team, USA's women's team, CPL side Barbados Tridents and domestic teams in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
The outsider. But, he was India's manager when they went on that fairytale run in the 2007 World T20 followed by the tri-series win in Australia. As a player, he was one of those opening batsmen that was very hard to get out. And as a coach, he's had brief stints with Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and India A.
GMT 1055 The article was updated with the news of Simmons pulling out.