Kunal Diwan

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Blog Posts by Kunal Diwan

  • Not sure of Rohit's availability: Agarkar

    Mumbai's Sharma and Saurashtra's Pujara may miss the Ranji final if they continue to be on the bench for India.

    Rohit Sharma

    NEW DELHI: Man of the Match Ajit Agarkar is in his sixth Ranji Trophy final, having won five of them and with a shot at half-a-dozen titles when Mumbai take on Saurashtra from January 26. The 35-year-old said Mumbai were relieved that their semifinal against Services at the Palam Sports Complex here was not decided by a coin toss.

    After rain led to the loss of two full days of play, there was a chance that the winner would be identified by the spin of a coin. But Mumbai shot our Services in quick time on the sixth morning to storm into their 44th title round.

    “We were slightly worried when there was no play for consecutive days. We were in a good position at 380 for 6 so we knew that we can outclass Services if the weather allowed.”

    Mumbai have a bad record in coin tosses, having lost two of two in First Class cricket, while Services have won three of three. But Dhawal Kulkarni (5-33) ensured that the 39-time Ranji champs did not have to endure any such vagary again, despite batsmen

    Read More »from Not sure of Rohit's availability: Agarkar
  • Mumbai avert toss farce, enter final

    On the extra day of play, Services were bowled out for 240, well short of their target

    The Palam A Ground

    NEW DELHI: Heavy favourites Mumbai were spared the gamble of a coin toss as they beat Services on first innings lead within the first session on Monday to enter their 44th Ranji Trophy final.

    The Ajit Agarkar-led side needed just 34.4 overs to dismiss the home team for 240, as medium-pacer Dhawal Kulkarni claimed five wickets for the match – three of which came with the new ball on the sixth morning.

    Services caved in under pressure, losing seven wickets for 76 runs to concede a match-deciding lead of 214.

    Rain and poor arrangements at the Palam Sports Complex ground had led to the loss of seven sessions in the match, and for a while it appeared that Services – who had fought valiantly on to finish Sunday on 164/3 in response to Mumbai’s 454/8 declared – would dig in some more to enforce a coin-mediated lottery. But the visiting team made early inroads, getting rid of the two overnight batsmen Sowmya Ranjan Swain (74) and Yashpal Sharma (58) quickly. The wicket of the prolific Rajat

    Read More »from Mumbai avert toss farce, enter final
  • Coin toss may decide fate of Mumbai-Service game

    RANJI TROPHY SEMIS: Services need 290 runs, Mumbai 7 wickets for a place in the final.

    The Palam Ground saw another delayed start and the game has been extended by a day. (Kunal Diwan/Yahoo!)

    NEW DELHI: Following the frustration of successive days of lost play, Sunday provided 66 overs of intriguing cricket, at the end of which the Ranji Trophy semifinal between Services and Mumbai was still anybody's game.

    Mumbai resumed their first innings after another delayed start around noon and raised 74 runs in just nine overs before declaring. A gauntlet of 454 was thus thrown to the home team, which responded brilliantly through stand-in skipper Sowmya Ranjan Swain (64 batting) and veteran stonewaller Yashpal Singh (43 batting) to finish on 164/3 at the end of the fifth day.

    IN THE OTHER SEMIS: Saurashtra thrash Punjab

    With an extra day pressed into service on the morrow, Services need 290 more to gain the vital first innings lead, while Mumbai seven wickets to nail their 44th Ranji final. Services had last reached a Ranji Trophy final in 1957/58 and they still have their best batsman of the season – Rajat Paliwal – awaiting his turn to bat.They were served well by Swain and YashpalRead More »from Coin toss may decide fate of Mumbai-Service game
  • Delhi Diary - 3

    A wet pitch, a dry washroom, and a Sachin-struck journalist.

    There are Sachin fans, and then there are Sachin fans. (file photo)A WET PITCH, A DRY WASHROOM

    This is the last thing I’d want to do from a cricket venue, portray in great detail the sorry state of washrooms at the Palam Ground, the site of an ongoing Ranji Trophy semifinal. But I owe as much to my distressed bladder and to future generations of sports reporters. Of the eight-odd occasions I’ve had of addressing an urgent call of nature over the last four days, seven-and-a-half have been performed – disturbingly – without the service of water. Why seven-and-a-half? Because once a trickle of the life-giving fluid actually seeped out of the rusty faucet, before drying up again.

    Imagine. Spending almost the entire day in the agonizing knowledge that there is no water in the loo – not many situations can induce greater panic. On complaining about lack of this most vital oxide of hydrogen where it’s totally required, an Air Force staffer shrugged noncommittally and went back to punching out God-knows-what on an ancient PC. Maybe military folk find such

    Read More »from Delhi Diary - 3
  • Wet pitch frustrates Mumbai, Services

    Ranji Trophy semi-final: Groundstaff were unable to ready the wet pitch for action on Day 4.

    No play on fourth day also. (Photo: Kunal Diwan/Yahoo! Cricket)

    New Delhi:
    There was plenty of sunshine and a pristine, dry outfield. But for the second day in succession no play was possible in the Ranji Trophy semi-final between Services and Mumbai at the Palam ‘A’ Ground on Saturday.

    It was a sorry reflection of the state of affairs at the ill-prepared venue, for although the sun beat down mercilessly all day the groundstaff were unable to ready the wet pitch for action. After an endless wait and several inspections the umpires decided to terminate proceedings at around 3.45 p.m.

    Rain plays spoilsport on Day 3
    Day 2: Mumbai fight back
    Day 1: Services stretch Mumbai

    The damage was done on Thursday night when a raging hailstorm blew off the covers, exposing the square to the mercy of the elements for at least a few hours. The track spent all of rain-ravaged Friday, the third day, sweating under three layers of tarpaulin, but by then moisture had penetrated deep into the surface – a situation that saw no redress despite the best efforts of those Read More »from Wet pitch frustrates Mumbai, Services
  • Delhi Diary - Part 2

    "There is no current Indian cricketer who hasn't been under my hands."

    Rain plays spoilsport at the Palam Ground. (Photo: Kunal Diwan/Yahoo! Cricket)

    When Ajit met Sachin | Delhi Diary - Part 1 | The joys of dismissing Sachin

    Food fads

    Kevin Pietersen guzzled down six cups of freshly-brewed tea during England XI's recent practice match against India 'A' at the Palam 'A' Ground. The caterer at the venue, Lokesh Sharma, said the star England batsman spent a lot of time warming up next to the tandoor, by whose side he emptied glass after glass of steaming chai to beat the chill.

    "He is a very nice guy and has no airs. He made it a point to come out and sit next to the oven and chatted with us all the time. Pietersen also said he preferred the Indian style of brewing tea to using tea bags at the hotel."

    Sharma has now been entrusted with the onerous task of feeding Sachin Tendulkar. "Sachin wanted Chicken Tikka yesterday. We didn't have it ready so we hurriedly prepared it, and he liked what he was served. Another thing that Sachin instructed us to do is to have porridge on the menu every morning. I have noticed that most athletes demand

    Read More »from Delhi Diary - Part 2
  • 'Nobody is like Tendulkar'

    Superfan Ajit Singh has memorized every single innings that the little master has played in Tests.

    Ajit with his prized possession. (Photo: Kunal Diwan/Yahoo! Cricket)

    New Delhi:
    As well-documented as India’s fixation with cricket is, there is still the occasional surprise in store for those (usually loitering, jobless journalists) trying to decipher the extent of this obsession.

    Ajit Singh, a casual labourer from a Haryana village has – like a zillion others – followed Sachin Tendulkar’s career ardently. The 32-year-old has memorized every single innings that the little master has played in Tests.

    On Friday morning, as incessant rain led to a premature abandonment of the third day's play between Services and Mumbai, Ajit finagled his way to an audience with the great man.

    Tendulkar was skeptical at first. But he was won over when the rustic rube rattled off accurate innings-by-innings scores on being questioned.

    Since 1996, Ajit has been maintaining a diary of knocks by Tendulkar. Ask him how much he scored in his 12th Test, and out pops the answer – 16 and 7 against Australia at Brisbane in 1991; 36th Test: 4 and 0 not out against New Zealand at Read More »from 'Nobody is like Tendulkar'
  • Mumbai vs Services: Rain plays spoilsport

    Ranji Trophy semi-final: The match has a provision for a sixth day – if required – for a result.

    Play called off without a ball being bowled. (Photo: Kunal Diwan/Yahoo! Cricket)

    New Delhi:
    Not a ball was bowled in the second Ranji Trophy semi-final between Services and Mumbai at the Palam 'A' Ground on Friday, as persistent rain blanked out the entire day. Play was called off around 11 a.m. when a stubborn drizzle and wet outfield compelled the umpires to call it quits.

    The Mumbai team left soon after arriving at the venue after it was realised that the weather wouldn't allow the match to resume. Sachin Tendulkar and Ajit Agarkar were whisked out from the back exit, while the rest of the team left on another bus after waiting in vain for the skies to clear up.

    When Ajit met Sachin
    Day 2: Mumbai fight back
    Day 1: Services stretch Mumbai
    'It's not often that I get a hundred'

    With Mumbai in a strong position on 380/6 in their first innings and more inclement weather on the cards, there are only two probable ways of arriving at a decision in the last-four clash. One possibility is Mumbai declaring after gaining a sizable total and skittling out Services to gain a Read More »from Mumbai vs Services: Rain plays spoilsport
  • Delhi Diary

    The biting cold, a raging headache, ineffective analgesia and a Ranji match.

    This winter in Delhi has been particularly harsh. (Reuters)

    Agarkar, Tare hit hundreds | The joys of dismissing Sachin | Makvana, Jackson fortify Saurashtra


    A most unpleasant start to the morning.  A traffic snarl on the way to New Delhi from Gurgaon puts paid to any hope of getting to the Palam Ground in time for the 9.30 a.m. commencement. Add to that a nagging ache in the back of the head, and ineffective analgesia, and what you have are the ideal makings of a dark day. Every few meters Maria Sharapova’s chiseled features stare invitingly from huge hoardings.

    The stunning tennis star was here recently to promote a chain of luxury apartments, dwelling places that would require a salary at least the magnitude of a top-50 player’s. The ground too has little succor to offer. Straight up, an eager fan who has sidled his way up to the boundary rope is taken to task by members of the Air Force police. Soon the conversation descends from pidgin English to unmentionables in the local dialect. Pistols swing menacingly from the cops' hips andRead More »from Delhi Diary
  • 'It's not often that I get a hundred'

    Ranji Trophy Semis: Ajit Agarkar's century helped Mumbai take control on the second day.

    Ajit Agarkar and Aditya Tare bats on Day 2. (Yahoo! Cricket Photo)

    New Delhi:
    Ajit Agarkar's bat-like ears project laterally into the winter air, rendering him quite recognizable even with his back to us.

    The Mumbai skipper brought his team back into the second Ranji Trophy semi-final against Services with a battling century, his fourth in First Class cricket, as the heavy favourites took control on the second day.

    Agarkar stroked several boundaries in his century, but said later that his most memorable shot was the single that fetched him the landmark.

    Day 2: Mumbai fight back
    Day 1: Services stretch Mumbai

    "I enjoyed the run I took off Avishek Sinha. It's not often that I get a hundred. The pitch did not change much. It just looks that way when a partnership is going on. Even yesterday it wasn't all that hard to bat. Maybe if the top order had put a price on their wickets we could have done better," he said.

    On the young Aditya Tare, with whom he compiled a 211-run stand for the seventh wicket, Agarkar said, "He adapted his game pretty well according to Read More »from 'It's not often that I get a hundred'


(78 Stories)