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VVS Laxman to head India's coaching staff in Zimbabwe

Rahul Dravid has been rested ahead of the Asia Cup, with the National Cricket Academy staff stepping in

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
In his full-time role, VVS Laxman is head coach at India's National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru  •  ICC/Getty Images

In his full-time role, VVS Laxman is head coach at India's National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru  •  ICC/Getty Images

VVS Laxman, the former India batter and current National Cricket Academy (NCA) chief, will be head coach on the week-long tour of Zimbabwe. India's 16-member squad, minus Washington Sundar who is currently in the UK on a county stint, departed for Harare on Saturday morning.
Laxman is standing in for head coach Rahul Dravid, who has been given a break after back-to-back tours of the UK and the Caribbean. Vikram Rathour, the batting coach, and Paras Mhambrey, the bowling coach, have also been rested for the short series, which runs from August 18 to 22.
Dravid and the full-time coaching staff, along with the players who are not playing in Zimbabwe, are expected to reconvene on August 20 before they depart for UAE for the Asia Cup. India play their first game of the Asia Cup on August 28 against Pakistan.
In Zimbabwe, Laxman will be assisted by his NCA support staff of Hrishikesh Kanitkar (batting coach) and Sairaj Bahutule (bowling coach).
While Laxman and Bahutule were part of the support staff group for the Ireland T20Is and the first T20I in England that followed, this will be Kanitkar's maiden tour with the senior team in a coaching capacity. From the coaching staff that oversaw those T20Is, Kanitkar replaces Sitanshu Kotak, the former Saurashtra captain, who is currently overseeing an Under-19 camp in Bengaluru.
Earlier this year, Kanitkar was head coach of the India Under-19 team that won the World Cup in the West Indies.
India will be led by KL Rahul in Zimbabwe; he was a late inclusion in the squad after passing a fitness test earlier in the week. Shikhar Dhawan, who was earlier slated to lead, will be vice-captain.
The squad features four players - Rahul, Axar Patel, Avesh Khan and Deepak Hooda - who will join the Indian team in UAE following the completion of the ODIs in Zimbabwe.
The ODI series, India's first in Zimbabwe since 2016, is part of the ICC ODI Super League. All three matches will be played at the Harare Sports Club.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo