Kunal Diwan

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Blog Posts by Kunal Diwan

  • Will Super Kings rule again?

    Defending Champions have their task cut out in the two remaining games.

    The yellow brigade needs to get it right, first versus KKR, and then again against Kings XI Punjab.

    Once again, Chennai Super Kings find themselves in a hole, not as deep as the one they burrowed into in the previous two IPL editions, still cavernous enough to warrant drastic corrective action. After a listless middle phase, Chennai registered wins on the bounce – against Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils – and need to hold it together for another couple of matches to squeeze into the qualifiers.

    The games in hand are against the strong Kolkata Knight Riders, to be played at the Eden Gardens on Monday, and Kings XI Punjab, to be played at picturesque Dharamsala - the site of Chennai’s rousing 2010 win, which M.S. Dhoni and S. Badrinath engineered via a magnificent heist chasing a huge target.

    Success from this tight corner will hardly be a walk in the park. KKR have performed like genuine title contenders and Punjab too have everything to play for. But Chennai have emerged unscathed from trying circumstances earlier, each time answering the call for something special with Read More »from Will Super Kings rule again?
  • A few bad ads

    Are Indian cricketers ill at ease with the pancake on?


    Sachin's squeaky falsetto has endorsed products from car batteries to luxury apartments.

    Cricketers and Bollywood personalities are the most recognizable faces in the country and are hence madly sought after for product endorsements. But in some cases roping in a wooden sportsperson to heighten a sales pitch doesn’t have the desired effect.

    For instance, how many viewers would opt for a particular brand of mobile phones, which is currently being promoted by a sheepish Virat Kohli mumbling pick-up lines that went out of style in the last century? Here’s a look at some of the unintentionally hilarious and plain disturbing advertisements that our worshipped cricketers have lent their persona to. Not everyone is blessed with the charisma or camera-friendliness of Shane Warne, but is a basic ease before the eyepiece (on the part of cricketers) and a sense of decency (on the part of the makers) too much to ask for?

    Not that sportspersons are supposed to excel at turning on the style quotient; neither does this persistently touring lot has time enough to perfect their lines and Read More »from A few bad ads
  • The hat that doesn't fit

    Tendulkar may have over-reached by agreeing to become a Member of Parliament.

    A good doctor needn’t necessarily be a good homemaker (no prizes for deducing as much). Likewise, a good batsman needn’t necessarily be a good bowler, leave alone an able administrator. Which is why the very human tendency to project persons successful in one field into roles unsuited to them bases itself on the questionable premise that excellence in a specialised area implies all-round ability across disciplines.

    A direct outcome of this trait is the nomination to posts – honorary or otherwise – of deified popular figures when the realistic chances of them contributing to the unrelated enterprises are flimsy. In most cases nominations are based on factors other than the suitability of the nominee to the post. Thus you have celebrity parliamentarians playing truant from the House, napping during sessions and exhibiting a general disinterest in proceedings. Not everybody has the social sensibilities of Shabana Azmi.

    Sachin Tendulkar’s nomination to the Rajya Sabha appears to be a case

    Read More »from The hat that doesn't fit
  • Six balls of savagery

    A look at the most explosive overs yet in IPL 5.

    Condensed formats elevate the value of shorter phases of play. Which is why an over – and the six legal projectiles it comprises – assumes a pivotal role when utilised to maximum effect, often radically swinging a game in the time it takes to microwave a bowl of popcorn. In the skewed world of Twenty20 cricket this is mostly the handiwork of batsmen - although half-a-dozen balls of craftiness delivered to a plan of action are not entirely ruled out. This particular article revisits the game-changing overs, with the willow, that we’ve yet had in IPL-V.

    A.B. de Villiers & Saurabh Tiwary versus Ashish Nehra (1,4,6,6,1,6/ RCB vs PW):

    When Ashish Nehra let out an expletive after spearing a yorker into Chris Gayle’s woodwork, he would have considered the job half done. The West Indian’s exit caused the required rate to spiral upward and when Ashok Dinda bowled a fabulous 19th over for just seven runs, Bangalore needed 21 to win in Nehra’s last over. The left-arm paceman conceded a single to

    Read More »from Six balls of savagery
  • A time to build

    West Indies have a golden chance to create a forceful presence — in the shorter formats at least.

    That moment.

    For a long time the Frank Worrell Trophy represented the pinnacle of competition in world cricket. This, after all, was the contest that in 1994-95 catapulted Australia to greatness, as Steve Waugh and Curtly Ambrose engaged menacingly, and unforgettably, mid-pitch at Trinidad. That series also marked the beginning of the decline of the West Indies, who have since been in freefall, a scenario worsened by the ongoing rift between the country’s stars and its cricket board. But things just might be looking up in the Caribbean.

    Nothing could have described the first Test, that Australia made its own by three wickets, better than the winning run. Ben Hilfenhaus tapped and scampered, barely making his ground as the throw clattered into the stumps. Australia too had made it by a whisker — after allowing the home team to a huge first innings score — preying on the West Indies’ obvious inability to close out things.

    The result both gladdened and saddened me. My entire bankroll – meaning all my

    Read More »from A time to build
  • One week down, seven to go

    Indian Premier League: A necessary evil...

    Nothing succeeds like success. Nothing succeeds like sleaze, either. And the IPL has had its fair share of both in the past seasons. The first edition had Lalit Modi signing autographs - the defining, nausea-inducing image from the inaugural hoopla - and Harbhajan Singh's slapgate.

    The sophomore season pitted the IPL's fiscal might against the all-powerful machinery of the Government, as it prioritised the general elections over providing security to the hit and giggle league. The reactionary move - en masse - of the tournament to South Africa turned out to be huge success, as also a model study in sound logistics.

    If that wasn't enough to pique interest, in came the Fake IPL Player with his inside - and vulgarised and entertaining - takes on dressing room politics within that most unfortunate of all franchises, the Shahrukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders.

    Then arrived the Modi fiasco, as the mastermind behind the mania was charged with, among other things, impropriety and sacked as Read More »from One week down, seven to go
  • To switch or not to switch

    Pietersen's controversial switch-hit finds itself in the spotlight again.

    Asad Rauf warns Pietersen in the second Test against Sri Lanka.

    Most would admit that watching A.B. de Villiers switch over and swing an Irfan Pathan full-toss for six behind the wicket-keeper made for a thrilling sight. The bowler – lost for words – could only flash a wry smile as de Villiers deployed the controversial shot several times in his rapid cameo, setting up Royal Challengers Bangalore’s opening win in IPL-2012.

    Since Kevin Pietersen premiered the stroke in an ODI against New Zealand in 2008, switch-hitting has been swiftly adopted by batsmen good enough to pull it off. In an environment – across formats - where quick runs are imperative and largely responsible for spectator interest, the shot has seen several successful renditions, none quite as exciting as David Warner’s 100-metre heave at the MCG in a T20I against India earlier in the year.

    More recently, the stroke found itself mired in controversy, again. Its originator, Pietersen, was warned for resorting to the switch-hit posture too early, as he swapped his hands/ changed his

    Read More »from To switch or not to switch
  • Lost chances & mismanaged priorities

    A year after winning cricket's greatest prize, Indian cricket has regressed into stereotypes.

    Click to see India's journey through World Cup 2011Click to see India's journey through World Cup 2011

    A season of polar opposites for Indian cricket has just ended — or has it begun, it’s tough telling these days — and spurred the mental machinery of the self-anointed sports intelligentsia into overdrive. It was a year ago to the day that the World Cup was won, in dramatic fashion as an inspired Indian team regained the crown it had first worn as a no-hoper in 1983.

    This time was different. India started favourites and played to their potential against stiff competition. The joy was doubly multiplied as the team had also clambered to the top of the ICC Test Rankings, and upon this dual platform they were expected to build and consolidate.

    What happened was the reverse of expectation.


    The winning momentIn the 12 months since M.S. Dhoni’s defining larrup off Nuwan Kulasekara sent a nation into a tizzy, India’s overseas boat floundered as water seeped in from the cracks of disrepair. The team lost eight consecutive away Tests split neatly down the middle as white-washes in England and Australia. The Read More »from Lost chances & mismanaged priorities


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