Kunal Diwan

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Outer Party slacker.

Blog Posts by Kunal Diwan

  • Frozen in memory

    How would you like to remember Sachin Tendulkar?

    At a friend’s place, on the mantelpiece, sits a photograph of his deceased father. The picture is a strange one. The grimace, the forced smile conveying an undercurrent of despair behind what is – the taking of a photograph – usually a happy moment. My friend later told me that the picture was clicked during the terminal stage of an excruciating illness; the object, once a vital and forceful building contractor, reduced to a mere shadow of the man he was in his prime.

    Which reminded me of Sachin Tendulkar's fast approaching final day of international cricket. For, is that not like the impending death of a loved one ravaged by cancer? At least that is what Tendulkar, and his irrefutable, fathomless affinity for game have turned it into.

    For almost three years now Tendulkar the cricketer has been in the grip of a festering malaise. While his contemporaries have all heeded the call of their wearying bones – none more exemplarily than Rahul Dravid -  Tendulkar has rationed out his grace

    Read More »from Frozen in memory
  • 'Just come in and swing your bat'

    Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly voice their views on Twenty20.

    The four greats came together on Saturday evening for KSCA's platinum jubilee celebrations.

    ‘You just come in and swing your bat,’ said Sachin Tendulkar, making short work of his approach to Twenty20 cricket.

    The batting legend was speaking at a platinum jubilee bonanza organized on Saturday night by the Karnataka State Cricket Association, during which he shared the stage with three other greats – GR Vishwanath, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly – in a moderated and agonizingly short session that covered but a minor arc of their combined experience.

    “The basics are important for Tests, even for ODIs…but in Twenty20, it doesn’t matter. This is the only format in which in three or four deliveries you can become a hero," Tendulkar added.

    Ganguly was easier on the often-maligned pajama variety.

    ‘You see more shots played these days, more results in Tests. Twenty20 has brought innovations into the game,’ said the former India captain.

    Laptop alert

    Speaking of innovations, Tendulkar revealed how marveled he had been at seeing a laptop in the Indian dressing room in 2003.

    “We Read More »from 'Just come in and swing your bat'
  • Minnows, do we really need them?

    The 2015 Cricket World Cup will see the inclusion of at least four 'weak' sides, swelling the total number of contestants to 14.

    People measure out life in landmarks. Birthdays. Bust-ups. Bars of soap. Even World Cups. 

    It is only with time that we realise the value of World Cups. How they come to evoke a rush of emotions that are at once completely public and deeply personal.


    Like how watching replays of Vinod Kambli crying a river at Eden Gardens makes me squirm in my worn-out seat. Not the least because I was a heartbroken fan or a blind loyalist to the cause of the country and its bottle-pelting masses.

    Kambli's Moment causes mild anguish because it coincided with what I can now laugh off as an embarrassing personal phase. Even if Kambli, who was later recompensed several-fold on a private front through an inexplicable benefaction of fortune, had won us that Cup, his name would have still conjured up cringe in my mind, along with a pretty picture it would be foolish to mention here.

    But inside this juvenile noggin in those days, Sri Lanka, despite the growing influence of Jayasuriya and Read More »from Minnows, do we really need them?
  • On the verge of great shame

    A defeat in the third Test will have Australia equal their worst run in history.

    TALKING SHOP: Clarke and Haddin at a practice session ahead of the third Test.

    Australia should wear lipstick. At least they’ll look good while getting hammered, a fate that looks inescapable for Michael Clarke’s side heading into the third Test with a deficit of two. Far from the inspired deeds that this folkloric series was expected to fire his men to, Clarke now faces the singular humiliation of being in charge during Australia’s most disastrous phase of Test cricket.

    They are presently on a sorry run of six defeats (four to India and two to England). Another at Manchester will have them equal the seven consecutive losses suffered in the late 1880s. If that indeed comes about  it will be truly a dubious landmark, a deplorable turn of events that even the teary Kim Hughes escaped in his tumultuous term in the early 1980s.

    The reasons for this sharp decline are many, though almost all can be indolently ascribed to the cyclical nature of things. If it could happen, unthinkably, to the West Indies, it had to happen to Australia, sooner rather than later going by theRead More »from On the verge of great shame
  • Time for Fletcher to deliver

    The Indian coach now has a full year to prepare a team that can compete abroad.

    Chief selector Sandeep Patil (L) speaks with coach Duncan Fletcher.

    There is little that validates Duncan Fletcher's largely undeserved second term as India's coach. Fletcher's work and India's returns in the last two seasons have been dissected no end - by everybody, apparently, except the men who matter - and indicate utter stasis. From a situation that was to herald a golden age following a fabled World Cup win and the No.1 ranking in Tests, India have lapsed back into their conventional strengths and weaknesses.

    Under Fletcher, India have won at home against sub-standard opposition and deflated shamelessly when rivals with a semblance of quality and spine have turned up. Forget about overseas results, the coach's former employers England came from behind to overwhelm the hosts 2-1 late last year.

    That was when it was assumed that irrespective of the outcome of the series against Australia, Fletcher would not be granted an extension.

    Fletcher to remain India coach for another year

    How surprising it is then that the stony face, shaded eyes and Read More »from Time for Fletcher to deliver
  • Where is the ugly Aussie?

    Australia's famous fight has been sorely missing on this tour.

    Australia have been missing Ricky Ponting's domineering ways with the bat.

    The ugly Aussie would have been most welcome. At least he’d have put up a fight. Australia’s dispiriting collapse to go two-nil down against India has now solidified the suspicions that hung over a team of limited experience on a tough sub-continental tour. 

    The visiting batsmen have failed to save their team. The manner in which they have trooped out however can scarcely be put down to inexperience alone. In just thirty-something overs on the last morning eight Australian wickets fell; a majority to recklessness than to anything devious in the bowler or the pitch. A counterattack isn’t always recommended and the need of the hour then was to burrow deep for, say, ninety-odd minutes, and carry on to make best use of set eyes and assured feet.

    This was precisely what Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay did for India when they ground out a whole session to begin the second day. Vijay, especially, sensing a chance to cement himself into India’s opening scheme, curbed his instincts to Read More »from Where is the ugly Aussie?
  • Comebacks are always hard: Harbhajan

    Off-spinner fancies his chances against the inexperienced Australian lefties.

    MUMBAI: Harbhajan Singh is back in the Test fold. The 32-year-old off-spinner was on Sunday selected to India’s squad for the first two home Tests against Australia and may play his 100th match at Chennai, where the series begins on February 22.

    Also see: Harbhajan leads ROI to Irani win | Gambhir dropped

    What made the occasion doubly joyous for Harbhajan was the fact that he had also led Rest of India to victory in the Irani Cup match against Mumbai. Speaking later, he said he was looking to resume the battle with old foes Australia, against whom he has a decidedly good record in Tests.

    “It’s always nice to play against the Aussies. They have relatively new line up and a lot of left-handers who have not played Tests in India. It will be a challenge for them and we’ll put them under pressure from the first day.”

    Harbhajan: back in favourHarbhajan will join R. Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha as the spinners on duty against Australia. He was dropped after India lost the Kolkata Test to England last year and was since plying

    Read More »from Comebacks are always hard: Harbhajan
  • Rest of India retain Irani Cup after dull draw

    Jaffer gets a hundred in aborted chase on the final day.

    Mumbai were set a tall target of 507 on the final day.

    MUMBAI: Rest of India won the Irani Cup on first innings lead over Mumbai as a most listless encounter drew to a close at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

    There was no semblance of intent from either side as both went through the motions for the better part of the day, before the match was stopped at 3:15 p.m, but not before a few inconsequential overs of spin had been turned in to check the over rate.


    Rest’s victory on first innings lead was inevitable on the fourth day itself. But the final day was not without its moments, what with the backdrop of a selection meeting going on concurrently.

    The visitors resumed on 296/4 and declared on a lead of 506 an hour to lunch, soon after Ambati Rayudu had completed his 150. Rayudu’s overnight partner Suresh Raina made a blunt push towards another century in the match.

    His effort, and his aspirations to the Test squad, was terminated prematurely after a spate of big hits. The left-hander from Ghaziabad was sidelined for the crucial Read More »from Rest of India retain Irani Cup after dull draw
  • Rayudu century puts Rest of India in charge

    Irani Cup: Ambati and Manoj help ROI build on their lead against Mumbai at Wankhede.

    Mumbai: Ambati Rayudu’s hundred marked a day of drudgery and attrition at the Wankhede Stadium as Rest of India assured themselves, through ways far from spectacular, of retaining the Irani Cup. A dogged and uninspiring first session followed by an outright attack towards close allowed Rest to end the fourth day on a lead of 413 over Mumbai.Ambati Rayudu (File Photo)

    More than admiration for Rayudu’s 14th first class century – a knock that switched gears radically mid-way – it was frustration over Manoj Tiwary’s wayward fifty that filled out the first half of play. There was irritation again at Mumbai’s slow over-rate – a trend that continued for the fourth day running, but was later checked by the introduction of spin – and nothing save for the two early wickets on the morning and a flurry of hits near stumps saved the contest from slipping disappointingly into meaninglessness.

    Rayudu (118*) and Suresh Raina (40*) added 89 brisk runs for the fifth wicket, every hit pulling the match away from Mumbai, as the

    Read More »from Rayudu century puts Rest of India in charge
  • Irani Diary - Day 4

    India’s cupboard of bowlers looks scarily empty.

    Pace raceSreesanth is on the comeback trail. (File Photo)

    Speed guns belong in the same despicable category as breath analysers and bad drivers. Unless they’re on television showing up fast bowlers for what they’re really worth. One such implement records Rest of India’s S Sreesanth, Abhimayu Mithun and Ishwar Pandey averaging about 130 kmph all through Friday. Not a patch on the kind of bowling Sachin Tendulkar and possibly Ajinkya Rahane will be up against in the four Tests versus Australia. The pace battery of Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird and Mitchell Starc functions at a completely different level. Although a majority of wickets in England’s epochal series win in India last year fell to spin, Australia’s last triumph on the sub-continent – under Adam Gilchrist in 2004 - was beget by the pace of McGrath, Gillespie and Kasprowicz. Will a dwindling India’s vulnerability to genuine quick bowling cost them another home series?

    Barely there

    India’s own cupboard of bowlers looks scarily empty. Fast bowlers

    Read More »from Irani Diary - Day 4


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