Kunal Diwan

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Blog Posts by Kunal Diwan

  • Vinay raring to bounce back

    The injured pace bowler is training at the NCA in Bangalore.

    Vinay Kumar, India’s out-of-action medium pacer, is waddling about in the swimming pool at the Karnataka State Cricket Association, attempting something of a cross between a floating exercise and an underwater trod.

    “Ravi Shastri does this all the time,” says an informed observer from the community of pen wielders, “It’s great for the calf muscles.”

    Vinay emerges from his watery abode moments later, toweling himself zealously, and struts past us, calves safely shielded from prying eyes by a navy track suit.

    What is obvious, however, is an incipient tummy that jiggles along to the thrum of his footsteps.

    Vinay, who has taken 28 wickets from 22 ODIs, pats it with something that derives equally from affection and embarrassment.

    “I have been out of action for some time,” he offers by way of an explanation.

    Named in the squad for the make-shift ODI and Twenty20 tour to Sri Lanka, Vinay dropped out of contention following a right hamstring injury during training, and was replaced by all-rounder Read More »from Vinay raring to bounce back
  • Life begins at 30

    From what transpired at Wimbledon this past week, one is led to believe that 30 is the new 20.

    The Maestro and the Magician, but who is who?

    Never ask a woman her age, nor a man his salary. Ask an athlete either and you’re likely to receive a rude glare, if not a brazen lie.

    Shahid Afridi was stuck in his teens for an inordinately long time, contrary to what radiographic evidence seemed to suggest.

    Some of our own cricketers have been known to fudge records to prolong their selection to junior competitions. A star out-of-action Indian all-rounder is – say people in the know – at least two years older than his billed age.

    Can’t really blame the offenders – if an army general can (allegedly) do it, why not a lowly civilian, stacked or not!

    Some people though continue to outfox the turning of the clock without the need for falsified papers.

    From what transpired at Wimbledon this past week, one is led to believe that 30 is the new 20, so far as tennis is concerned.

    Roger Federer and Serena Williams, the men’s and women’s singles champions, are all above the jagged red line of 30 annual earthly

    And from the looks of it, neither

    Read More »from Life begins at 30
  • All in a day's work

    The round-up from the NCA where India's finest are getting ready for the gruelling season ahead.

    Yuvraj looked a shadow of his athletic self.

    The National Cricket Academy at Bangalore is teeming with familiar faces.

    Indian cricketers in various stages of disrepair and amotivation are scheduled to arrive in batches at the Academy to gauge their preparedness, or lack thereof, for the impending obligatory ODI series against Sri Lanka later this month.

    Ishant Sharma, with all the poise of an ostrich on the run, is hurling a mean ball in the nets, watched from the sidelines by a rather trim Virender Sehwag.

    The weather is typically Banglorean and Sehwag seems to be enjoying it, before he hurriedly rises and removes himself to the middle as a portly gentleman – an insufferable collector of memorabilia, I am told – tries to sidle up to him.

    In the time it takes for one of his cover drives to crash into the fence, the dashing opener disappears from sight, leaving the collector smiling foolishly, clutching uselessly at an empty canvas bag that he would have had high hopes of filling out by the end of the session.

    The art of passive

    Read More »from All in a day's work
  • Well left, Lillee

    After a 25-year-long stint at the MRF Academy, Lillee leaves India richer in pace bowling. But even he has some regrets.

    The likes of Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad and Zaheer Khan owe their success to Lillee.

    High excitement preceded my first visit to the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai. Having spent many a childhood winter evening with a dog-eared copy of ‘The Art of Fast Bowling’, I was bounding about expectantly at finally getting to meet Dennis Lillee, a great fast bowler and as close to being a childhood idol as anybody else.

    Lillee, in conjunction with Jeff Thomson - or even without, was a ball of energy on the field. He returned from debilitating stress fractures of the back to rule batsmen the world over, and kept the dailies happy with his entertaining dalliances with an aluminum  bat, betting and – most infamously – one Javed Miandad.

    My counterparts from other newspapers on that blazing Chennai afternoon shared very little of my enthusiasm. Lillee’s visit was – as I would find out in due course – one of his three annual appearances at the MCC High School (where the Foundation is housed) and a triple fixture in every cricket hack’s diary for eons.

    It did not help that the Read More »from Well left, Lillee
  • A tall order

    Presenting a selection of some of the tallest international cricketers. Text by Kunal Diwan

    Presenting a selection of some of the tallest international cricketers. Text by Kunal Diwan

  • Them again

    Yet another Pakistani cricketer finds himself at the centre of a corruption scandal.

    Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Danish Kaneria has maintained an obdurate façade of innocence and plans to appeal his life ban from English cricket.

    The other dirty party – Mervyn Westfield – was let off by the deciding panel with a five-year suspension in the last two years of which he will be allowed to compete in domestic cricket.

    The ban for the 24-year-old medium-pacer was lighter as he pleaded guilty to the charge of having ‘received a reward, resulting from his conduct in the Durham Essex match, which could bring him or the game of cricket into disrepute’.

    Kaneria’s response to the verdict was predictably brazen.  

    "I'm very upset about this decision. For what reason they have convicted me I do not know.  It is a very, very unfair decision against me. I've come all the way from Pakistan to say the truth.

    “They (the ECB) don't have any proof against me. I don't know why they are saying this,” said Kaneria, apparently exasperated by the three-man panel chaired by lawyer

    Read More »from Them again
  • Old, not over the hill

    Some are delayed by competition, others by the times they live in.

    Sajeewa Weerakoon,34, celebrates his maiden international scalp, one he had to wait a long, long time for.

    Over the years, middle-aged debutants in ODI cricket have fallen conveniently into distinct categories. There have been those whose careers were on the wind in the early to mid 1970s – the dawning of ODIs – and that reduced their haul of limited-overs cricket to a handful of games after a belated, ill-adjusted inauguration.

    Then there are the second-generation citizens of ICC’s Associate Members - the minnows, if you like - whose delayed entry into the eleven, mostly at an age northward of 40, is almost ritualized every four years come the World Cup. Thus you have a Nolan Clarke turning out in Dutch colours for the first time, in the 1996 World Cup, after having completed almost half-a-century on planet Earth; or a 43-year-old Rahul Sharma debuting for Hong Kong – as captain, no less – in the 2004 Asia Cup.

    Playing in his first ODI this past week, Sri Lanka left-arm spinner Sajeewa Weerakoon fits in another group entirely. Neither is his age of breaking in – 34 – comparable to the Read More »from Old, not over the hill
  • Cricket's oldest foe

    Rain clouds have a way of manipulating sporting fortunes.

    Rain wiped out two days of cricket in the ongoing Birmingham Test.

    Lovers of sport have it easy these days. There is something live to watch on television almost daily, and summer – that most sought after commodity in Europe – brings with it an abundance of riches for couch potatoes.

    With several different contests in currency, evenings in India for sports fans revolve around perplexing choices: should they pitch their voyeuristic tent in the red sludge of Roland Garros, or tail the fortunes of the bickering Englishmen as they take on the equally fractious West Indies; should they chuck these entirely to watch another combustible entity – perhaps the most volatile in modern sport – erupt into a flame of excellence down in Sri Lanka?

    What the viewer hasn’t yet factored in is the play of the elements. Rain and sport have a storied, and much-hated, history and it is often claimed in parts that have been worst hit by the fickleness of Mother Nature that the surest way to end a drought is to drive in three pegs of wood in a field, and wait for the skies to

    Read More »from Cricket's oldest foe
  • Rain rule debate turns into India vs ICC fight

    The ICC's decision to stick with the Duckworth-Lewis Method has peeved supporters of the VJD method.

    DAMP SQUIB: Rain and cricket have an unusual affinity, much to the viewers' dismay.

    An unrequited labour of love or yet another attempt by India to usurp the ICC’s supremacy? The rejection of Indian engineer V. Jayadevan’s system for managing rain-curtailed cricket matches at the ICC Cricket Committee’s recent meeting has been - with a little help from the fanners of the fire - imbued with a regional slant.

    Jayadevan, an IIT alumnus, spent the better part of the past decade developing and perfecting his mathematical model for calculating target scores in interrupted matches, a methodology he feels is superior to the Duckworth-Lewis method currently in use in International cricket.

    The Kerala-based civil engineer’s enterprise, however, was thwarted at the apex body’s latest meeting in London, which deemed that the new system offered absolutely no advantage over the D-L system presently in place, and thus a replacement was unwarranted.

    “My system doesn’t adhere to an exponential increase of the scoring rate throughout an innings. Normally, the scoring is faster in the Read More »from Rain rule debate turns into India vs ICC fight
  • Super Kings still top dogs despite loss

    The most consistent IPL team has an army of detractors.

    The Yellow Brigade fell at the last hurdle this year.

    Chennai Super Kings are the Manchester United of IPL, for more reasons than one. It’s not just a superlative record across the five years that the league has been in existence for that fosters favorable comparisons. There is also the small matter of the undisguised hate that their success has spawned.

    Wherever one goes, people – rabid followers, casual viewers, disinterested passersby – are dismissive, even openly venomous, of the consistency that has been Chennai's hallmark since 2008, the year the IPL was unleashed upon the Indian consciousness.

    In a format that thrives on unpredictability, in which regular success is illusory and reliability rare, the Super Kings have made four finals and a semifinal in five seasons. They have lifted the IPL trophy twice, in succession, and a hat-trick of wins may well have resulted on Sunday night were it not for Manvinder Bisla’s freakish knock and the unfortunate no-ball that Ben Hilfenhaus bowled.

    In contrast, there are at least three franchisesRead More »from Super Kings still top dogs despite loss


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