Mumbai: The Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), led by former captain Kapil Dev, began the process to choose India's next men's coach on Friday with former all-rounder Robin Singh appearing first for the interview.
Singh, a former Mumbai Indians coach, appeared before the three-member panel, which also comprises Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy.
The CAC will announce the selected candidate later this evening around 7 pm.
Six names – incumbent Ravi Shastri, Singh, Lalchand Rajput, Mike Hesson, Tom Moody, Phil Simmons – have been shortlisted for the high-profile position.
The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) will have no say over the final selection of the coach but the CAC are expected to rank the six shortlisted candidates according to their preferences and the candidates' merits.
The CAC members, on arrival, sidestepped questions on whether Shastri is a clear favourite to retain the job.
Shastri, who got a 45-day extension after the end of his tenure following the World Cup in England, has been publicly backed by captain Virat Kohli.
Shastri, who is currently in the West Indies with the Indian team, is expected to make his presentation and give his interview over Skype at around 4 pm on Friday.
Indian captain, Virat Kohli had also endorsed the choice of having Shastri at the helm.
"With Ravi Bhai, we share a great camaraderie and have mutual respect,” Kohli had said before the team's departure for the West Indies tour.
Gaekwad, member of CAC and former India coach himself, backed Shastri's candidature, "Speaking purely from the results perspective, he has done quite well. So, besides Ravi, all other positions [in the coaching and support staff] in my opinion are open depending on who is applying, their credentials and whether they meet the criteria of the BCCI," Gaekwad was quoted as saying by Mid-day.
According to various reports, the BCCI claimed to have received over 2,000 application since they advertised for the head coach's position for the men's team. The advertisement for vacancies in the support staff and applications for all the positions including the administrative manager of the team were sought after by the Indian board.
The requisite for coach's role demanded the candidates should have played a minimum of 30 Tests or 50 ODIs, which the board had to relax for two – Hesson and Rajput– of the six shortlisted candidates.
Rajput has a couple of Tests and four ODIs to his credit but he was the manager of the Indian team which won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. While Hesson, who has never played international cricket, has been called for the interview by BCCI for his successful stint with the New Zealand side.
"The criterion had to be overlooked because we had to look at the candidates coaching experiences as well. At this point of time, Shastri looks favourite to be retained as the coach because he has the support of the Indian captain as well. It remains to be seen if CAC will have their own opinions on this issue," a senior BCCI official told CricketNext.
Besides the head coach's position, the interviews for batting, bowling and fielding coaches will be conducted by the selection committee headed by MSK Prasad.
The position for administrative manager Sunil Subramaniam, who copped some criticism over the last week and issued an apology, may face the axe.
While Bharath Arun is all but certain to be retained as bowling coach, Sanjay Bangar's future as the batting coach remains uncertain.
The only thing that can save Bangar is if Shastri, in his capacity, demands his own support staff.
Vikram Rathour is in running for the post with a fair amount of backing from one of the influential figures in Indian cricket's junior set-up. Unless things change drastically, Rathour remains the favourite to pip Bangar.
Incumbent R Sridhar is also ahead in the fielding coach's race even though he will be in direct competition with the legendary Jonty Rhodes, who has worked with Mumbai Indians.
With inputs from PTI