Sunday, April 12, 2009

Unwelcome Rest

The two finalists of the Kohinoor Karandak Tourney- JN Petit and SSPMS will in all probability play the final match after a break of more than a month since they last figured in the semifinals

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, April 6, 2009

Have you seen a tournament be it cricket, football or for that matter any sport, run over close to two months with the break between the semifinals and the final being nearly a month? There are chances that you might have not. But the second edition of the Kohinoor Karandak Inter-School Under-14 Cricket Tournament, organised by the Pune District Cricket Association (PDCA), is an exception.The ‘premier’ under-14 tourney got underway at various venues on February 17 and till the filing of this report, the dates for the final match are yet to be confirmed.

Twelve teams took part in the long-drawn tournament where fifteen matches were held. Remember: the first semifinal tie between SSPMS and Angels School was held on March 10-11 while the second semifinal match between JN Petit and Dyanganga School was staged on March 16-17. It’s been more than three weeks of not-so ‘welcome rest’ for the two finalists - JN Petit and SSPMS. In such a scenario, the slackening of momentum for the two finalists can be a spoiler for both teams as and when they played the title clash.
Ask JN Petit coach Vijay Dalvi and he is supremely confident that the long break between the semis and the final won’t be impediment in their way to clinching the crown. "We’ve proved with our performance that we are the most accomplished team in this tournament. More than three weeks of break between the semifinal and final can be a factor in derailing the momentum, the kind of confidence my boys are enjoying, we are going to wipe our opponents to the floor, mark my words," he remarked.
SSPMS coach Prakash (Anna) Nevrekar says the ‘competitive juice’ can dip if there is such a long break between the semifinals and final. "Definitely, the rhythm of our team will get affected but we can’t do anything about it. Our school are having exams till mid-April while JN Petit are having their exams till April 13. We need to get at least ten days of practice once the exams are over so that we can slip into the competitive mode before the summit clash," he said.

The Pune District Cricket Association conceded that it’s for the first time I their organisational history that the tournament has run for such a long period."It’s hasn’t happened before. We planned to wrap up this event by March 15 but we were forced to run a tourney for more than two months. The main hassle is that too many private tourneys were happening during the course of this tourney and availability of grounds became a problem. Also, schools were having exams which didn’t make our job easy, we are now hoping to have the final in the last week of April at the Vengsarkar Cricket Academy in Thergaon," said PDCA official Yashwant Bhujbal.

Take That

Kedar Jadhav will now have to resign himself to the fate of playing for Bangalore Royal Challengers after latter refused to release him to play for Delhi Daredevils

The ‘problem of plenty’ has turned sour for city lad Kedar Jadhav. The high of being offered a rookie contract by Bangalore Royal Challengers reached a feverish pitch three weeks later when the dashing top-order batsman got a contract with the Delhi Daredevils’ main team. It was then that the script started to unfold the way Kedar probably wouldn’t have desired. The Bangalore Royal Challengers refused to release Kedar so that he could play for Delhi Daredevils.Mind you, a rookie contract implies that Kedar would be part of the BRC team with little or no chance of getting a look-in in the playing eleven.

To be fair to Kedar, any cricketer in his shoes would have acted the way he has - opt for a main team contract rather than settle for a rookie contract. It’s just that the timing which has complicated matters. Interestingly, Kedar signed a ‘consent letter’ at Bangalore but is yet to receive the main contract. So, what’s the road ahead for Kedar? "Kedar will have to stay with Bangalore Royal Challengers this season. His contract is arriving in a few days time," said MCA president Ajay Shirke.

It is widely learned that Bangalore Royal Challengers has asked for a financial compensation of Rs 20 lakh from to release Kedar for Delhi Daredevils. Is MCA in the know of it? "I’ve no comments to make on the same," Shirke offered a straight bat.It’s not clear whether the financial compensation was asked from MCA or from Delhi Daredevils. So, what is Delhi Daredevils' TN Sekar has to say on the same?

"Players like Kedar must show more maturity in future. Kedar is an exciting talent, so it’s unfortunate to see an innocent boy like him miss out playing in our main team because he first signed up with Bangalore Royal Challengers.Is he aware of the financial compensation demanded by BRC? "I don’t want to get into that," he played safe. To top it all, Kedar has been included in the MCA Blue team for the MCA Open Invitational Super League.

Playing Price

Maharashtra Ranji seamer Wahid Sayyed and Rajasthan Royals playerParag More took part in the recently-held Aurangabad Premier Leaguewhere several ICL players plied their skills

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, March 27, 2009

Maharashtra Ranji seamer Wahid Sayyed is poised to be ‘barred’ fromplaying for the State after he ‘played’ in the recently-held LokmatAuran-gabad Premier League in which four players from the rebel IndianCricket League (ICL) – three former Maharash-tra Ranji players RanjitKhirid, Dhiraj Jadhav Suyash Burkul and Raviraj Patil alsoparticipated.

Remember, Wahid Sayyed was one of the main wicket-takers forMaharash-tra in his debut Ranji season in 2006-07, wherein he bagged16 wickets at an average of 28,62, but his career nos-edived in2008-09 season, as he strug-gled to find a regular berth in the Stateside.
To make his cup of woes full, Wahid found his name on the BCCI’s listof bowlers having suspect action. And tha was primarily the reason whyhe was kept out of the playing eleven for most part of the2008-09-season - he only figured in only one game against Baroda wherehe was clobbered around (9-0-52-0 in I Innings and 4.5-0-28-1 in IIInnings).

The only saving grace for Wahid in the 2008-09 season wasthe dogged 53-run tenth-wicket stand he forged with Mondeep Mangelaagainst Baroda that allowed Maharash-tra to swell their first inningsform being 175 for 9 to 228 all out.Interestingly, Wahid’s name was missing from the list of 26 seniorteam probables announced by MCA , who would no longer be required toplay in the MCA Invitational League as the emphasis is more on sendingthese boys on overseas exposure tours.

While Wahid has lots to lose follow-ing his participation in theAuran-gabad Premier League for Sanya United, there is anothercricketer who could see trouble brewing at his end.Parag More who plays for United Cricket Club in the MCA OpenInvita-tional League, is also part of a IPL team - Rajasthan Royalsand his participa-tion in the Aurangabad Premier League couldjeopardise his chances of playing in the second edition of the multimil-lion-dollar league. Parag turned out for Navjeevan Life Care inthe APL tour-ney.

"BCCI has laid down strict instruc-tions that any players taking partin tournaments ‘unauthorised’ and ‘unapproved’ by the board will bebanned for life. Both this players you have mentioned have taken partin a tournament where four ICL players from the state have alsoplayed, so both will stand to be barred from playing for Maharashtra,"quipped MCA president Ajay Shirke.

Shirke said the state association has been doing all it can to makeits play-ers aware of which tournaments to play and which not to. "Notjust the state body, even the district cricket as-sociations have beenregularly coun-selling our boys about which tourneys to play and whichnot to. Even after all this counselling, if players act smart and playin ‘unapproved’ tourna-ments, they should be ready to face theconsequences," he reasoned.

Talking specifically about Wahid, does he think that daftness on thepart of the lanky bowler would mean state miss the services of atalented bowler? "Not at all. We’ve enough in our tank to atone forthat. Wahid has got a sus-pect bowling action and that is why we arewary about playing him in the eleven last season," he said.Clearly, life will not be the same for Wahid after two contrastingseasons with the State Ranji side, while for Parag More, the joy ofplaying in the Rajasthan Royals can just become a dampener.

Proud Feeling

Maharashtra keeper Rohit Motwani recalls with pride how he didn’t concede a bye in his Ranji debut when Tamil Nadu openers raised over 400 runs for the 1st wicket

Suhrid Barua, Pune Miror March 23, 2009

Wicketkeeping can be a thankless job for you hardly get noticed if you maintain a clean slate (not drop catches or concede byes). It’s a job that grab maximum eyeballs when you put down a chance or in other words dish out a sloppy performance behind the stumps.But, there are also highs associated with wicketkeeping. For example, if a keeper doesn’t concede a bye when the oppostion has stacked up a huge first innings score, it can be quite a creditable achievement.

Maharashtra Ranji wicketkeeper Rohit Motwani sports a broad grin when you try ask him about that magnificent effort of not conceding a bye in his Ranji debut against Tamil Nadu in their 2008-09 Ranji Trophy opener at Nashik, when Tamil Nadu’s opening duo had raised a massive 425-run stand. “I’ve vivid memories of that game, it was my debut tie. Tamil Nadu openers - Murali Vijay and Abhinav Mukund stitched together 462 runs for the first wicket, 425 of which were scored by them with me not conceding a bye. In fact, when they closed out day one at 377 for no loss, I felt highly satisfied because it’s not often that a keeper doesn’t concede a bye when the opposition runs up a score in excess of 400,” recounts Motwani, who gave further evidence of his promise, smacking a strokefilled 114 for Maharashtra 1 in a practice tie at Poona Club on Wednesday.

It’s a different matter altogether that Motwani’s feat is far off the world Test record of a keeper not conceding a bye in a highest innings total, held by Zimbabwe Tatendu Taibu (when Sri Lanka posted 713/3 decl at Bulawayo, in May 2004).The 18-year-old BMCC first year student believes any gloveman would be filled with pride when if a single bye is not conceded when a team racks up a a huge score.

“It’s not about me, even greats like Adam Gilchrist, Mark Boucher would be proud with such kind of efforts,” said the Aund lad, who also broke the jinx of not getting a century in his last twenty-odd innings. “I’ve been getting starts but not quite able to translate them into big one. I used to get out in the forties a lot, and this ton will give me loads of confidence to maintain the consis-tency of getting the hundred and not to content with 30s, 40s and 50s,” remarked the youngster who incidentally had his batting best of 42 against Baroda.

Motwani’s first full stint with the State Ranji side (he played in all the six games this season) has evoked hope of Maharashtra finding a wick-etkeeper for the future. Remember, Maharashtra employed two keepers -Yogesh Takawale and Satyajit Satbhai for the Ranji 2006-07 season and Vishant More and Sunil Jadhav for the 2007-08 season but in Mot-wani, the State would hopefully find the stability it’s looking for.

Umpiring Duo

Meet uncle Arvind Shivale and nephew Hrishikesh Shivale, who have beenofficiating together in PDCA matches for four years now

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, March 21, 2009

It may be a routine affair to see two of them walk out to the wicket,donning the white coat or sometimes with the white shirt. Yes, theyare umpires but they have that not-so-common streak about that.Meet 57-year-old Arvind Shivale and his nephew 27-year-old HrishikeshShivale, who have ensured that umpir-ing is kept alive in the Shivale household.

Uncle Arvind is a vastly experi-enced umpire and is theyounger brother of Hrishikesh’s father Shankar Shivale. And theuncle-nephew combo make an interesting watch every time they officiatein a match.Uncle’s introductionArvind was one of the founding members of the Poona District CricketAssociation (PDCA) and it was the ‘big’ uncle who introduced hisnephew into umpiring, and the family duo has stood in seventy-fivematches in the past four years.Arvind, who has officiated in over 500 matches in last ten years,never imagined that the guy who was teaching the nuances of umpiringwould get an opportunity to officiate together one day.

“I encouragedHrishikesh into umpiring as he was keen to take it up. He’s a quicklearner and keen observer and that held him in good stead. But I neverthought at the time, when he started umpiring, that we would one dayofficiate to-gether, “ says Arvind, who also coaches the Ness WadiaJunior and Senior College teams.

What about competition between them as to who is the best? “As anuncle, I try to help him in whatever way I can and I have never seenofficiating with him as any kind of ‘competition’. He has a longlearning rope ahead of him.”Hrishikesh on his part, says umpiring with his uncle has made him againer in more ways than one. “Every game I officiate with my uncle,is a learning experience for me. I’ve into it (umpiring) for only fouryears and I know very well that I’ve a long way to go. My uncle is astorehouse of umpir-ing knowledge and he’s always there to help meout,” Hrishikesh is effusive in praise of his uncle.

Hrishikesh, who has cleared the PDCA umpires’ test, is itching forthat day when he and his uncle would get the lip-smacking opportunityto offici-ate in a Ranji Trophy. “It’s not going to be easy,”Hrishikesh insists.“Every person has the right to dream and realise that. I hope my uncleand I would get the chance to stand in a Ranji Trophy in the future.I’m keep-ing my fingers crossed,” he wrapped up on a sanguine note.

Not happening for now

MCA postpones senior team’s tour of Sri Lanka
Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, March 16, 2009

The Maharashtra Cricket Association has postponed its plans to send its senior team for an exposure tour of Sri Lanka later this month, after the SL board voiced its unwillingness to host the State team because of its hectic domestic cricket season. "We were supposed to undertake a trip to the Emerald Isle from March 16 till the end of this month. The tour was to comprise two three day matches and three one-day games to be played against their ‘A’ side, but the Sri Lankan board informed us of their inability to host us primarily because of their ‘busy’ domestic season which prompted us to put off the tour for the time being," said MCA Tournament Committee Chairman Riyaz Bagwan.

Interestingly, last year, MCA had sent its senior team for a similar exposure to Sri Lanka in the month of June. Given that, what was MCA’s line of thinking behind mulling a tour to Sri Lanka in March as they were in the know that their domestic cricket season would be in full swing? Bagwan says the move to facilitate a tour of Sri Lanka in March was necessitated only because of the postponement of the West Zone All-India T20 Tournament, which was scheduled to be held in the city from the last week of March to the first week of April. "
After the West Zone All-India T20 Tournament got postponed until next season, we felt that our senior team wouldn’t have much cricket to play in March, so we though that it would be a worthwhile idea to give our boys some foreign exposure as our domestic season was at its fag end, so we zeroed in on sending our team to Sri Lanka," he explains.

The MCA Tournament Committee Chairman says they are now working on the modalities on having the tour sometime in June. "The Sri Lankan domestic season will conclude in the end of April. In May, monsoon is at its peak there, and the Sri Lankan team will be going on a tour of Bangladesh around that time. We are constantly talking to our Sri Lankan counterparts and are pretty hopeful of the tour materialising in June," Bagwan exuded optimism.

The postponement of the Sri Lankan tour has meant that the state boys had to work out a hurriedly-made schedule of four practice matches (two-day affair) between Maharashtra 1 and Maharashtra 2, to be played every Wednesday and Thursday, the first of which kicked off last week when Maharashtra 1 won by virtue of their first innings lead at Poona Club.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

IPL Elation

Two state boys - left-arm seamer Jitendra Patil and dashing batsman Kedar Jadhav make it to Bangalore Royal Challengers team

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, March 9 ,2008

Playing for the country is the ultimate dream of any youngster. But getting an opportunity to play in the Indian Premier League is equally a ‘significant’ step towards furthering the career of a youngster. And two state cricketers from Maharashtra - left-arm seamer Jitendra Patil and dashing top-order Kedar Jadhav have surely taken a huge ‘career stride’ after both were named in the Bangalore Royal Challengers side.
Jitendra, who has been the most-talked about in the state cricket circuit for his ability to generate decent pace, made it to the main team of Bangalore Royal Challengers while Kedar made the cut for BRC’s developmental or rookie team."I’m pleased with the news. I’ve worked very hard for the last three days in the trials and very glad that the Bangalore Royal Challengers think-tank have given me the opportunity to play for them," said a jubilant Jitendra who plays for Jalgaon District Cricket Association in the MCA Invitation League.
Jitendra has won an one-year contract and will look at the prospect of bowling alongside the likes of Dale Steyn and Nathan Bracken. "It will be a rich learning curve for me. Steyn is one the best bowlers around while I’ve a lot to learn from Nathan Bracken who is also a left-arm bowler like me," said Jiyendra, who is expected to get his contract during the Deodhar Trophy tourney in Cuttack.
And for Kedar Jadhav, there’s no such regret at missing out of the main team. "I’m thrilled to bits at getting this opportunity. I am not feeling bad just because I’m in the development team and not in the main team. If I deliver, I know I can make it to the main team," he oozes confidence.
Though it couldn’t be confirmed about the monetary details, it is learnt that Jitendra should get a contract which would fetch him Rs 20 lakhs for the season while Kedar is likely to take home 8 lakh for an one-year contract.
SO, WHO MADE IT, WHO DIDN’T
*Jitendra Patil was the surprise package among all the names bandied about playing in the IPL. He may not have much to show for in terms of wickets, but his ability to generate decent pace made a strong case for his selection
* Kedar Jadhav was heavily tipped to make it the cut as his power-packed batting is ideally suited for the slam-bang format. The fact that he has earned a place in the developmental team and not in the main team shouldn’t be disappoint him as being mere part of the BRC team is in itself no small achievement
*Aditya Dole was with the Maharashtra Ranji Trophy side for the whole season though he didn’t play in all the matches. He has got a three-year contract with Kolkata Knight Riders though the status of whether he will be in the main team or in the developmental team will be known later this month
* Harshad Khadiwale was flown in as third player to take the BRC trials but failed to make the cut. A silken touch player, Harshad has been in rollicking form in the Ranji one-dayers leading from the front. He definitely has age on his side to make it in future
* Ameya Shrikhande had a fabulous run in the four-day Ranji Trophy this season amassing over 500 runs. But a disappointing show in the Ranji ODIs scuppered his chances. Like Harshad, he too has age on his side to make the cut in future for the kind of talent he possesses

Eye-catching Combo

Meet IEMD cagers Atul Patil and Ruben Khabade, who are the tallest and shortest players of the ongoing Dunkyard 2009 Inter-College Basketball Tournament

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, March 9, 2008

They perhaps are not even aware that they make quite a combo when they ply their skills on the basketball court. Meet the Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship Development (IMED) cagers Atul Patil and Ruben Khabade, who have formed a rare combination of being the tallest and shortest players, that too from the same side in the ongoing Dunkyard 2009 Inter-College Basketball Tournament.
While Atul is six feet six inches taller, Ruben is the shortest at five feet four inches. Ask the duo about it, and the bashful side of the duo surfaces. "The fact that the tallest and shortest players of the tournament are from the same side arouses interest among one and all. People curiously ask us how we happen to play together," says Atul, who has been caging with Ruben, since both hail from the same hamlet of Miraj in Sangli district.
"Sometimes, people who came to watch our matches seem to see the funny side of us playing together. Atul plays as a pivot while I play as a feeder and we know each other well since we turn out for the same club Miraj Youth Developmental Centre.
So, who are their role models? Both of them open up. "Michael Johnson is my idol. The way he dunks make me crazy. His playing style is sheer magic," says Atul while Ruben goes gung-ho over Kobe Bryant. "Kobe Bryant is one of the best among the contemporary lot. His dribbling and shooting skills are awesome."The only sour note is their quarterfinal exit from the tourney. "It was a close affair, it could have gone either way but BVCOE had the last laugh," both added in unison.

Spinning a web

How often do we see two spinners take six wickets in an one-dayer? But VIIT’s Piyush Taru and DY Patil College’s Kapil Deol achieved that in the Sankarrao Kawre Memorial Inter-Engineering Cricket Tournament

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, March 7, 2008

The league match between DY Patil College (Akurdi) and VIIT in the 16th Sankarrao Kawre Memorial Inter-Engineering Cricket Tournament, was an edge-of-the-seat thriller but that took a backseat with eye-catching performances of two spinners, who achieved not many accomplished names have even attained in international cricket.VIIT’s Piyush Taru and DY Patil’s Kapil Deol bowled splendidly on the matting wicket at the ILS Law College ground, reaping an impressive haul of six wickets apiece in a match in which VIIT scrambled home by one wicket.
DY Patil made first use of the wicket and were bowled out for 99 in 28.4 overs with Piyush taking 6 for 9 off 7.2 overs. And when it VIIT’s turn to chase down the score of 99, they were forced to make a heavy weather of the smallish score, by Kapil Deol who captured 6 for 15. Mind you, it’s not an everyday occurrence to see two spinners grab six wickets in a match, that too in a one-dayer. “I kept flighting the ball as I knew that the DY Patil batsmen were not comfortable with it. I was getting appreciable turn from the deck and that helped,” said the shy, mild-mannered second-year VIIT student.
The boy on the losing side, despite his six-wicket haul, Kapil Deol, feels he did nothing ‘extraordinary’. “I don’t think that I bowled anything ‘special’. Indicretion overwhelmed the VIIT batsmen.. They were probably expecting me to flight the ball but I was smart enough not to oblige them and kept delivering the quicker balls,” quips Kapil.
And what’s more, they are both left-arm spinners. “We both are left-arm spinners but Piyush relies a lot on his flight to take wickets while I like bowling the lower trajectory ones. But I feel that Piyush is a better bowler than me,” says Kapil, a compliment something Piyush is not sure of. “I’m not sure whether I am a better bowler than Kapil. The important thing is that both of us did our job for our side. It’s so unfortunate that Kapil had to be on the losing side despite taking six wickets, which is a creditable achievement in any level of the game,” Piyush signs off.

Pace-Spin

Maharashtra Academy of Engineering’s Rishikesh Singh combined seam and leg-spin bowling to take 4 -61 as ILS Law College were all out for 212
Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, March 5, 2008
Maharashtra Academy of Engineering, Alandi’s all-seam attack in the Damodar Karandak Inter-College Cricket Tournament has been well documented to be delved into. And on Tuesday, MAE side employed a spinner for the first time. No, he isn’t any regular spinner but medium-pacer Rishikesh Singh, one of the six seamers in the side, who also bowls leg-spin.Rishikesh’s combination of medium-pace and leg-spin bowling panned out to be a boon for the MAE side as the 21-year-old emerged as the pick of the MAE bowlers finishing with 4 for 61 to help his side halt ILS Law College’s first innings at 212 in the final game at the Varroc Vengsarkar Academy ground.
"I normally do bowl a bit of leg-spin on turf wickets but on matting wickets I mainly bowl medium-pace because there is not much purchase for the spinners on matting wickets," explains Rishikesh. "Today we got a turf wicket and I thought of bowling leg-spin and it worked out fine for me." Interestingly, Rishikesh started the day bowling medium-pace but after two overs switched to leg-spin. "I wasn’t get any help from the wicket. So I choose to bowl leg-spin which fetched me rich dividends as I got rid of Anurag Kapur and Babu Shankar.
"Rishikesh not just scalped two wickets off leg-spin bowling, but also added two more with medium-pace towards the fag end of the day and denied a deserving fiver when ILS’s last batsman got run out. I would have been happy to get a five-wicket haul but it’s fine with me, my team has bowled out the opposition for 212 which is more important," Rishikesh added.

Getting Noticed


Bangalore Royal Challengers call up Kedar Jadhav and Jitendra Patilfor selection trials

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, March 3, 2008

It’s an open secret that city players are on the selection radar ofthe Indian Premier League (IPL) teams. It was widely believed thatscouts of various IPL teams were in Rajkot during the Ranji Trophyone-dayers to have a close look at some of our cricketers.Delhi Daredevils was talked about as the team that was keeping an eyeon our players.
But on Monday, the scenario took a new turn with the Bangalore Royal Challengers asking two State cricketers - dashingtop-order batsman Kedar Jadhav and promising left-arm seamer JitendraPatil to attend the three-day selections trials to be held in Bangalore.“Bangalore Royal Challengers got in touch with me and asked for permission from MCA to allow Kedar and Jitendra to take part in the selection trials to be held in Bangalore on March 7, 8 and 9,” informed Ranji Trophy selection committee chairman Pandurang Salgaonkar.
Ask him about the Delhi Daredevils evincing interest in some of thecity boys and Salgaonkar professed his ignorance. “I have tried to getin touch with Delhi Daredevils’ T A Shekhar but I’m yet to hearanything concrete from him,” he said.The former fast bowler feels both Kedar and Jitendra stand a goodchance of making the cut. “Let’s hope for the best. My gut feeling isthat they both will make the cut,” he fired an optimistic parting shot.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Back in Business

After a disastrous run in the Ranji Trophy one-dayers at Rajkot, wherehe failed to reach double-figures in all the four innings, AmeyaShrikhande bounced back in style clubbing a rollicking ton for IncomeTax against United Cricket Club

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 26, 2009

Cricket can be a great leveller. One moment you could be perched ontop while at another moment you can plunge to a low. Within a matterof a couple of months, Ameya Shrikhande seems to have realised howthat famous dictum holds true. After a phenomenal season in thefour-day Ranji Trophy for Maharashtra, where he amassed 571 runs(including three hundreds against Tamil Nadu, Baroda and Railways) atan impressive average of 51.90, the right-handed strokemakerexperienced the blues with the willow, managing just 27 runs at a paltry average of 6.75 in four innings in the Ranji Trophy one-dayers recently.
"The Ranji Trophy four-day games went well for me. I got three hundreds and was feeling pleased to have contributed when my teamrequired the most, but in the Ranji one-dayers in Rajkot Iunfortunately missed out," says the youngster nonchalantly.
So did he indulge in any kind of soul-searching to decipher as to what went wrong with his batting in the Ranji one-dayers in Rajkot where hefailed to reach double-figures in all the four innings? "I cannot saythat there was any single factor for my lean run with the bat in Rajkot. I got run out in the first game and perished cheaply in the next three matches. I guess one has to learn from failures and emergestronger, I’m just doing that," Shrikhande talks with a fair amount ofmaturity.
The city lad seems to have learnt his lessons quickly as he vanquished his bad patch and blazed his way to a swashbuckling 120 off only 122balls, punctuated with seventeen fours and two sixes for Income Taxagainst United Cricket Club in the MCA Open Invitational League.
Interestingly, Shrikhande’s century was the lone three-figure score inthe entire slot of last week’s of matches. So double elation for notjust returning to run-making ways but Ranji one-dayers," he says witha satisfied tone.
How about all the talk going around about some of the Pune boys beingin the running for a berth in IPL teams? "I’m hearing it from thenewspapers only. Let’s hope some of our boys make it, it will be goodfor the game in the state," he signed off.

Non-city Flavour

The entire MCA team, champions of the Cadence Trophy, comprises players from the districts
Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 24, 2009

The Cadence Trophy champions MCA have an ‘interesting’ look about their team. The 13-member squad doesn’t feature a single player from Pune. A peruse of the team’s roster is an eye-opener because the entire team is made up of players from districts like Aurangabad, Jalgaon, Latur, Jalna, Ratnagiri, Sawantwadi, Sangli and Nashik. "Our entire squad is made up of players from the districts. Our team management zeroed in on the best players from the districts and the title win is an indication of the talent the district players possess," said MCA team manager Sharad Belsare.
Belsare, who was part of the Maharashtra Ranji squad under the captaincy of Chandu Borde in the early seventies, though he never figured in the playing XI, feels the ‘sincerity’ and ‘dedication’ of the district players has to be seen to be believed. "These boys know that if they don’t perform, they will find it hard to stay in the selection reckoning and that is why they have the fierce drive to excel," Belsare explains.
But one couldn't resist the temptation of asking him whether it was a well laid-out strategy not to include city boys in the MCA team? "Nothing like that. As I said before, our team management picked the best from the districts. Also, the availability of the Pune boys was a factor as most of them turned out in this tournament for other teams like Deccan Gymkhana, PYC, Poona Club and Cadence," Belsare added.
MCA teamJagdish Jope (Jalgaon)Imran Pathan (Hingoli)Vikas Nirfal (Latur)Abhishek Rao (Nashik)Ajay Kale (Aurangabad)Summet Swami (Aurangabad)Prashant Kore (Sangli)Hrishikesh Kale (Jalna)Mayur Khaire (Ratnagiri)Piyush Sawant (Sawantwadi)Pranab Kale (Aurangabad)Ashish Deshmukh (Jalna)Aditya Shinde (Ratnagiri)

Power of Six

Maharashtra Academy of Engineering, Alandi, team doesn’t believe inthe ‘spin’ factor as they have a six-pronged seam attack which isdoing the job for them

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 24, 2009
Most teams tend to bank on spin bowlers to do the job for them or atleast play a supporting role in the success of a team. ButMaharashtra Acad-emy of Engineering, Alandi, team are refreshinglydifferent. This team doesn’t believe in the ‘spin factor’.The MAE outfit relies heavily on its seamers - they have employed asmany as six medium-pacers in each match and the team hasn’t done badlyat all, racking up their sixth consecutive vic-tory after pippingMAEERS Arts, Sci-ence, Commerce College in the ongoing DamodarKarandak Cricket Tournament to book a final date with ILS LawCollege.
The MAE side operates with new ball bowlers - right-arm bowler HarshitDev and left-arm seamer Dhruv Vaghasis. Rahul Ranjan, Rishikesh Singh,Vinay Tomar and skipper Ankit Jain make up the all-seam attack.“We have a squad of fourteen players. We have six seamers playing inall the matches. We don’t have a spinner in our team,” reveals MAE captain Ankit Jain, who wrecked MAEERS Arts, Science, Commerce Collegewith a bo-dacious five-wicket haul.
So, was the ploy to go with an all-seam attack in every match adeliber-ate strategy? “Not all,” says Ankit. “It’s sheer coincidence.We never planned it that way. It just so happened that our bowlingattack revolves around the seamers.”But was the presence of a spinner missed by his team? “Not really.This is our sixth consecutive romp and all our bowlers have deliveredwhen it mattered in every match. The impressive performance of ourseamers have never made us feel the absence of a tweaker,” Ankitobserved.
The MAE captain does agree that not having a spinner in its rank canserve as a surprise element for their oppo-nents. “Most of the time,opponents would not know what to expect. Every time the new ball bowlers are taken off the attack and the first, second or third choicebowlers are brought into the attack, opponents would eagerly wait tosee a spinner to roll his arm over as they can anticipate going forthe top but with us no team can harbour the prospect of facing aspinner,” he explains.

Champion Stuff

New Zealand coach David Trist feels Dhoni's men have enough firepower to pip the Kiwis in their own backyard

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 22, 2009

David Trist has achieved a fair amount of success during his stint as New Zealand coach - the big one being guiding the Black Caps to glory in the 2000 ICC KnockOut Trophy in Nairobi.So when a man of his coaching pedigree talks, one is only overwhelmed with rapt attention. With the upcoming India's tour of New Zealand round the corner, the confabulation had to veer towards the much-awaited series.
The 2002-03 tour of New Zealand was a disaster for Team India where the conditions were heavily loaded in favour of the home side. Ask Trist and he feels the scenario will be different this time around. "Nobody seems to talk about the fact that India toured New Zealand in 2002-03 during the early part of the season (in December-January). Remember, this time the team is playing most of the games in March where the summer is at its best," observed Trist, who is also the head coach of the Cadence Cricket Academy in Mundhwa.
The former Canterbury seamer believes Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men have a lot of self-belief going for them and he has no doubts that India would start as favourites. "This is a 'progressive' Indian team. I feel the Indian team over the years were susceptible on bouncy tracks and hostile crowds overseas, but not any more. I always reckon that you are as good as your weakling and this Indian team doesn't seem to have any weakling. I am putting my serious money on India," Trist spoke highly about the Indian team.
So would the Indian team be caught unawares if they are presented with green tops to play on? "I don't think so. I expect the conditions to be consistent and fair and I also know that this Indian team has the firepower in their batting and bowling to outsmart New Zealand no matter whatever the hosts throw at them," Trist puts things in perspective.
The 61-year-old New Zealand, who also served as coach of Netherlands, says the emergence of India as a potent force in world cricket bodes well for the game. "It's great to see the passion people have for this game in India. India is the engine room through which cricket is taking bigger strides all across the globe both in terms of development of the game and also money flowing into the sport."

BCCI T20 Postponed

Board says the tourney, slated to be held in the city next month, put off to allow IPL franchisees to have enough time to prepare their teams ahead of the 2nd edition

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 20, 2009

There was always a great deal of scepticism over the feasibility of holding the BCCI's Zonal League and the All-India knockout Twenty20 matches (for the Mushtaq Trophy) scheduled to be held in Pune from March 23 to April 5 because the dates were running too close for comfort, if not clashing with the dates of the Indian Premier League (IPL). With the multi-million-dollar league kick-starting from April, the scheduling of the BCCI's Zonal League and the All-India knockout T20 games were always on a shaky ground. "Look, the earliest we could finish the tourney was on April 5, which is just five days before the IPL begins.
Also, the IPL franchisees wanted more time to prepare their teams for the mega league and having the tourney on April 5, which would have left the players of the various ILP teams with very little time to get together," said BCCI chief administrative officer Prof. Ratnakar Shetty.So was a formal request put in by the IPL franchisees regarding the same? "I think so. We will have this tourney at the start of the 2009-10 season," he added.

Aggressive Streak

That's what ILS captain Krishna Mohan imbibed from Shanthakumaran Sreesanth during his school playing days for Ernakulam Cricket Club

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 19, 2009

He rubbed shoulders with Shantakumaran Sreesanth during his school days in Cochin, and the aggressive streak of the fiery speedster seemed to have rubbed off on ILS captain Krishna Mohan as he churned out a clinical all-round effort to propel ILS College into the semifinals of the 2nd Damodar Karandak Inter-College Cricket Tournament. "I was playing for the Ernakulam Cricket Club in Cochin six years back where Sreesanth was our club manager. I still remember how he used to tell all the team members about the need to be 'aggressive'. I have imbibed a lot of that aggressive streak from him," recalls Mohan, who on Wednesday first held the ILS innings together, top-scoring with a responsible 48 in his team's score of 240 for 8, and later wrecking the happiness of Abasaheb Garware College (Arts) to script a 54-run victory.
Mohan, who bats left-handed and bowls left-arm spin, fondly remembers how Sreesanth used to advise him on giving hundred per cent to every ball. "He (Sreesanth) always insisted on thinking of every ball as a wicket-taking delivery. I was in class ten at that time and I still remember Sreesanth telling me to bowl every ball with the intent of taking a wicket,'' reminisced Mohan, who also played with another former India seamer from Kerala, Tinu Yohanan for Swantons Club.
Digressing from the confabulation, one probed him about how near-perfect example he has set of the saying 'captain leading from the front'. "I'm sure with my 48 and four-wicket haul, I have done that," he blushes. "That apart, we have a very talented side that can go the distance if we keep playing the way we are at the moment," quipped Mohan, whose side won its first two games before losing a thriller by one run to Modern College in its third tie. "The loss to Modern College still rankles. It was touch and go. But the convincing win has put us in the right frame of mind for the semifinals," he concluded.

Nothing wrong

While former India wicketkeeper and former chief national selector Syed Kirmani tore into Dhoni, saying the gloveman lacked the 'copybook basics', another former chief national selector Dilip Vengsarkar says there's nothing wrong with MSD's wicketkeeping

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 18, 2009

It's a case of one former chief national selector taking a dig at the wicket-keeping abilities of Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, while another throwing fulsome praise at the Ranchi dasher. Even former India wicketkeeper and former chief national selector Syed Kirmani tore into Dhoni, saying the gloveman lacked the 'copybook basics' and was not a natural athlete for a wicketkeeper, another former chief national selector Dilip Vengsarkar sees nothing amiss with the wicketkeeping abilities of the Indian skipper. "First of all, I'm not a wicketkeeper. But as far as I'm concerned, Dhoni is solid behind the stumps. To be honest, I find nothing wrong with his wicketkeeping," the former Indian top-order batsman said on the sidelines of the Thakurdas Wadhwani Memorial Cricket Trophy which concluded in the city on Sunday.
Pouring praise on his leadership qualities, Vengsarkar said Dhoni is a doing fine job and is only going to get better. "He has been doing a fabulous job as captain. He's learning all time and would only evolve as even better captain," the 'Colonel' added.

No square-cuts please

Varroc Vengsarkar Cricket Academy captain Omkar Sankalp makes it a point not to play the aerial shot

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 16, 2009

A youngster is strictly told by coaches to curb himself playing the aerial shots. But Omkar Sankalp makes a conscious effort on his own to avoid playing one shot - the square-cut shot. The youngster, who bats at one-drop for Varroc Vengsarkar Cricket Academy and opens the bowling for his side besides being the captain of the side, has been a phenomenal success in the Thakurdas Wadhwani Memorial Un-der-14 Cricket Trophy just-concluded Varroc Vengsarkar Cricket Academy grounds. Omkar amassed 170 runs with the willow and captured a superb haul off 22 wicket, including two five-wicket hauls to cap off a fine tournament and deservedly got the Man of the Series award.The maturity of the the 12-year-old youngster can be gauged in the man-ner in which he shoulders arms to short deliveries pitched outside the off-stump. "Omkar is a very disciplined cricketer. Ever since he joined the Varroc Vengsarkar Cricket Academy in September, 2008, he has emerged as one of the exciting youngsters with loads of positive energy and I've never seen him play the square-cut shot," revealed Varroc Vengsarkar Cricket Academy coach Mohan Jadhav, who seen this talented lad very closely.
Jadhav feels the good thing about Omkar is that he knows his off-stump very well. "Opposition bowlers try to entice Omkar to play the cut shot up-pishly but he's smart enough not to get laid in any kind of trap," Jadhav observed.
The Varroc Vengsarkar Cricket Acad-emy coach, who is also professional painter, says Omkar knows the impor-tance of keeping a price tag on his wicket. "It's an absolute joy to see Omkar bat. He likes to play in the 'V' and also because he is strong with his flick strokes, he doesn't need to risk playing the square-cut," Jadhav explains.
Ask the boy in question and you know what his coach is talking about. "I make a honest effort not to play the square-cut shot. Not that my coaches at Varroc Vengsarkar Cricket Academy have to repeatedly tell me this, I want to make sure I don't end up giving my wicket playing that shot," Omkar sings a mature tune.

Attention Jitendra

Young left-armer seamer is also under the selection scanner of the Delhi Daredevils team

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 14, 2009

Young left-armer seamer Jitendra Patil, who is touted to be quickest bowler among the present lot, is also under the selection scanner of the Delhi Daredevils team. Apparently, the GMR Group is impressed with what they have heard of left-armer seamer Jitendra Patil, touted to be the best thing to have happened to state cricket. "Jitendra is definitely someone our people would like to have a look during the Ranji one-dayers in Rajkot. He looks promising and he is very much under consideration," said T.A Shekhar, vice president of the GMR Sports Group, which owns the Delhi Daredevils team.
The talent scouting team of the Delhi Daredevils team, which had pegged February 15 as the date on which they would decide which of two Pune boys -Kedar Jadhav and Ameya Shrikhande made the cut, now wants to see some of the Maharashtra cricketers besides Kedar and Ameya during the upcoming one-dayers. "Our sports committee people will watch some of the Maharashtra boys in Rajkot. Watching them would give us a fair idea about what they can deliver," said Shekhar.
So has there been in the shift in the stand of setting their sights on taking one batsman? "As I've said before, we will take one batsman, it could be Kedar or Ameya or even some one else. We want to have a broader pool of players to look at," he clarifies.
So is he willing to set any time-frame when they take the final decision? "All I can say is that our people will arrive at a decision by the end of this month," he added.

Determined Lot

Saraswati Mandir Night College team members are a bunch of boys, who attend classes at night and work full-time during day time, even participate in the tourney at the cost of loss of pay

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 13, 2009

Saraswati Mandir Night College team is like any other team among the twenty sides participating in the ongoing second Damodar Karandak cricket tournament. But their presence in the tourney oozes a 'team with a difference' kind of feeling.Saraswati Mandir Night College team are a bunch of boys, who take college classes at night and work full-time during day time in various sectors. The passion of this squad can be gauged by the fact they are competing in this tourney after obtaining leave from their employers for those days they are playing a match."All our team members work full-time in different industries. I work as an accountant in Sha Jatmal Sopaji in Bhawanipeth," reveals Saraswati Mandir Night College captain Praveen Khillare, who captured two crucial wickets, including the prized one of Kunal Bhilare, MIT Junior College captain even as his side scripted a thrilling 16-run romp at LIS Law College ground.
The swarthy-looking Khillare says it is their sheer passion for cricket that propelled their participation in the tournament. "We've no coach," insists Khillare."We don't have a cricket kit. It was a big relief when our college provided it for this tournament. Also, we've no ground to practice, we practice sometimes at SP College and Nehru Stadium but all these things doesn't act as a dampener for us," he says matter-of-factly.
The massive intent of just 'playing' in the tournament is further exemplified by the fact that the Saraswati Mandir Night College team-members even shelled out a part of the entry fee from their own pockets to take part in the tournament."Every team has to pay an entry fee of Rs 2,000 for this tournament. Our college played Rs 1,000 while all our team-members chipped in with the rest amount to ensure our participation in the tournament," Khillare says, wearing pride in his sleeves.
So, what about the loss of pay for the leaves taken by his team-members on match days? "Our salaries are very modest. Still, we don't think so much about loss of pay. The important thing is that our employers have granted us leave to participate in this tournament, which gives us a thrilling experience. Whether we win or lose in this tournament is a different matter altogether," he says.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Those Days

Promising Azhar Ansari, who earned a maiden call-up for the Ranji ODI squad, recalls how his parents couldn't afford a cricket kit for him

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 12, 2009

A year back, his parents couldn't even afford to buy his cricket kit. If that was not enough, his parents strongly disapproved his desire to pursue cricket seriously. But Azhar Ansari managed to tide over all that in his steely resolve towards making it big in the sport."My parents didn't approve me taking up cricket. They felt that education was important as they saw no future in me playing cricket seriously at that time. Ever since I made it to the Maharashtra Under-19 team, my parents have given me a free hand to pursue cricket with all dedication as they know that if I stay focused and keep performing, there is a future for me in cricket," Azhar recounts his struggling days.
Probe him more about his early days in the game, he wears a broad grin about playing in local tournaments in Nandurbar district with borrowed cricketing paraphernalia from his cronies. "I initially started playing in tennis ball cricket. Gradually, I used to borrow pads and gloves from my friends to play in the real ball game."Life took a 'significant' turn when his prolific run with both the bat and ball (500 runs and 38 wickets) in the MCA Under-19 Invitation League for the 2007-2008 season catapulted him to being selected in the Maharashtra under-19 team. Everybody seems to talk about his brilliant 119 against Mumbai in the C.K. Nayudu (Under-12) Trophy match at Deccan Gymkhana, where he capped off a dream run, snaffling four wickets and pulling off two brilliant catches. "It was my day, I guess. I performed with the bat, ball and in the field," he says.
Even MCA president Ajay Shirke was bowled over by that innings. "You should have seen innings. Azhar was outstanding that day. He's an exciting prospect for us."Rewind to today, Azhar is picked in the 16-member Maharashtra Ranji one-day team on the back of a string of power-packed performances. But that joy is laced with apprehension because he is yet to recover from a left ankle injury which he sustained in one of the practice games. In fact, Azhar belted a magnificent 100 off only 99 balls in a crucial stand with Kedar Jadhav after Maharashtra Red were in a spot of bother at 60 for 4 in the penultimate practice tie at Pooma Club on Tuesday and was rested for Wednesday's final warm-up game so that he can recover fully for the opening Ranji ODI against Gujarat on February 15. "My physio Abhishek Joshi is looking after me. He's confident that I would be fit as a fiddle for the first game against Mumbai. Of course, the dream of playing for the Maharashtra Ranji team is the ultimate thing, I know for sure that day is not far off if I keep scoring runs consistently," he sings an optimistic tune.

Kedar or Ameya?

Former Indian fast bowler T.A Shekhar, who is the vice president of the GMR Group, which owns the Delhi Daredevils team, says the choice will narrow down to the two

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 11, 2009

The buzz over whether any cricketer from Pune would get an opportunity to ply their trade in the Indian Premier League (IPL) is all set to crank up in the next few days.Even as names of Kedar Jadhav, Ameya Shrikhande, Harshad Khadi-wale and Samad Fallah are bandied out as the likely players to make the IPL cut, it is increasingly becoming clear that only two guys - Kedar Jadhav and Ameya Shrikhande are in the running for the Delhi Daredevils outfit.Former Indian fast bowler and vice president of the GMR Sports Group, T.A Shekhar, which owns the Delhi Daredevils team, made it clear that only Kedar Jadhav and Ameya Shrik-hande are in the race as far as the Delhi Daredevils side are concerned."Yeah, we are trying to have a close look at Kedar Jadhav and Ameya Shrikhande. I saw Kedar bat during the Duleep Trophy final in Chennai a couple of days back, and he looked good to me. We're also eyeing Ameya Shrikhande though I'm yet to see him bat. I've a good feedback about him," Shekhar told Pune Mirror.So the obvious questions is: will Delhi Daredevils look to snap up both of them? "No. We feel both are bright talents, but only one of them would make it," he clears the air.One can't resist the tempation of asking him when a final call will be taken. Shekhar toes the wait-and-watch line. "Our sports committee will toss the same and take a decision on it. I'm pretty hopefull that we would be able to arrive at a decision by Febru-ary,' he concluded.

Unaware

Maharashtra Ranji cricketer Ankit Bawne, who won the BCCI's MA Chidambaram Trophy award for being the best U-15 cricketer in the country, says he wasn't aware of it until told by Pune Mirror
Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 11, 2009

The State cricket fraternity was swelling with pride after news trickled in that Ranji player Ankit Bawne was awarded the MA Chidambaram Trophy by BCCI for being the best Under-15 cricketer in the country.The 16-year-old pint-sized right-handed middle-order batsman has amassed over 1,200 runs at all age groups tourneys and it was this consistency that catapulted him to national attention.So did the Aurangabad lad expect to get the coveted award? "I was not in the know. I came to know this good news from you only. As far as expectations go, I don't know what to say," he blushes. "I am just happy to get the recognition"Bawne feels that he has evolved as a cricketer over the last one year. "I'm only 16, so there's so much to learn and coach Shaun Williams has been giving the tips to improve further."If he has to choose one knock which he cherishes the most in the last one year, which one would be that? "I reckon my double hundred (200) vs Saurashtra in Rajkot was an important as Maharashtra won that match," he says with a tenor of contentment.Maharashtra coach Shaun Williams poured praise on the young turk. "Ankit has got the right attitude to succeed. What I like the most about him is that he's very keen to learn all the time and when you see that kind of thing in a youngster, the job of a coach becomes joyful," he says.Dwelling specifically on his batting, Williams said a bit of fine-tuning has done a lot of good to his batting. "Ankit wasn't great cutter of the cricket ball before but trust me, he's improved his cut shot by leaps and bounds and made that shot as one of his potent weapon in his batting armoury," he added.

Ten-wicket Joy

Ranjane Cricket Academy coach Subhash Ranjane is elated after seeing his ward Sanjay Sharma snaffle a rich bag of 10 for 97 against Poona Club

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 8, 2009

The heady feeling that a coach gets in seeing his ward excel is something only he can best describe. And for Ranjane Cricket Academy coach Subhash Ranjane, it's a day he will savour after seeing his ward Sanjay Sharma rip the heart of Poona Club Ltd, taking a magnificent match haul of 10 for 97 (6/33 in 1st inngs & 4/64), steering his side to an impressive victory in a Group B match at the Tata Motors ground. "Sanjay was very wayward when he first joined Ranjane Cricket Academy. He was putting the bowl all over the place. I insisted on him bowling to an one-stump line to improve his accuracy," he said of Sanjay, whose bodacious effort fetched him the Man of the Match award."What I liked about him is that he is a willing learner. I'm very happy to see him essay a big role in our victory."So, what does Ranjane think about the secret of his ten-wicket haul? "Well, Sanjay was swinging the ball prodigiously and was straying down the leg-side while bowling over the wicket. I told him to bowl round the wicket, and once he did that, he got rich dividends as he was getting the ball to nip into the Poona Club batsmen," Subhash explained.And for the boy in question who played for Mariya Sports Club, , it'not the first time that he had got a ten-wicket haul. "I want to make this a habit (of getting ten wickets in a match). I had earlier taken 11 for 78 for Mariya against the Kolkata Cricket Coaching Centre in Kolkata last year," the 9th standard student of Anjuman Islam, Mumbai.So schooling in Mumbai and cricketing in Pune. Won't be a tough ask balancing both studies and cricket? "My first passion is cricket but I don't want to overlook academics. I will find out a way so that both are pursued smoothly," he said.In another match, Varroc Vengsarkar Cricket Academy secured first innings lead over PDCA after they nearly forced a win after enforcing the follow-on on the latter.Brief Scores: Varroc Vengsarkar Cricket Academy: (I Innings) 267 all out: (Omkar Sankpal 97, Rohan Benhal 62, Hari Sawant 38, Indrajeet Pharate 4/75) v/s PDCA: (I Innings) 135 all out: (Dhanraj Shinde 40, Ashwin Kardekar 5/13) and (II Innings) 116/7: (Omkar Sankpal 5/40). Result: Match drawn (Varroc Vengsarkar Cricket Academy took 1st inngs lead).Poona Club Ltd: (I Innings): 88 all out: (Shantam Mehra 40, Sanjay Sharma 6/33) and (II Innings): 102 all out: (Shaikh Aquib 42, Sanjay Sharma 4/64) v/s Ranjane Cricket Academy: (I Innings): 190 all out: (Aniket Jagtap 54, Amannulla Shaikh 6/40) and (II Innings): 1 for no loss. Result: Ranjane Cricket Academy won the match by 10 wickets.

Real Time

Bangladesh speedster Mashrafe Mortaza is kicked about linking up with Kolkata Knight Riders owner and his childhood craze Shahrukh Khan
Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 11, 2009
The feeling of looking up to a childhood fan is one thing and rubbing shoulders with him is quite another. Bangladesh speedster Mashrafe Mortaza would soon be experiencing the latter when he links up with Shahrukh Khan, who owns the Kolkata Knight Riders team in part-nership with Juhi Chawla Mehta and her husband, Jai Mehta for this season's IPL campaign."Just to say that I will be interacting with Shahrukh Khan from close quarters gives me a heady feeling. I'm a great fan of his movies, I've watched his first movie, Deewana in 1992, I've also watched Baazigar and many of his other movies. He's a fantastic actor and I'm really excited about meeting him," Mortaza told Mirror from Dhaka over phone.What now matters to the 25-year-old is that he doesn't disappoint the Bollywood Badshah. "That's the last thing I want," he says. "I'm determined not to let any complacency seep into my game. All I'm thinking about is how to translate my consistency showing for the national side into the IPL from game one," he say with guarded optimism.For someone, who makes a crore every season playing for Bangladesh, the amount of US$ 600,000 offered by KKR is clearly much more heftier. So is Mortaza going to do with the whopping amount?. "I will look to save as much as I can for future," he grins.So, no plans to go shopaholic? "I don't think so. As far as personal belongings go, I've whatever I need be it a car or house. Of course, my wife, (Sumana Haque) will be upping her shopping list now," said the gangling bowler, whose family is into prawn farm business.And if there's one regret Mortaza has: it is of seeing him team-mate Shakib Al Hasan unsold. "He has been the most consistent guy for us this season both with the bat and bowl. I feel sorry for him but then there is also an opportunity for a talented player like him in future," he added.

As I see it

West Zone Duleep Trophy team coach Praveen Amre offers his take on the three Maharashtra cricketers in the squad

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 8, 2009

The inclusion of three Maharashtra cricketers – Kedar Jadhav, Samad Fallah and Ameya Shrikhande in the West Zone Duleep Trophy team has been looked upon with much excitement and anticipation in the state cricket fraternity. Two of the three –Kedar Jadhav and Samad Fallah figured in the playing eleven against East Zone, and made a fair impression in a West Zone team swarming with talented players.Getting into the playing eleven was itself a 'challenge' for the State boys. But looking at the bigger picture, where do these boys stand among the plethora of talented players in the domestic circuit? West Zone coach and former India middle-order batsman Praveen Amre gives his take on the trio.Kedar Jadhav: We took a tough call in having Kedar in the playing eleven against East Zone as we preferred him over seasoned Ramesh Powar. Kedar looks a bright prospect for the future. He has got over 600 runs in Ranji Trophy this season which is a testament to his consistency. I also know that he has got about six fifties this Ranji season but needs to convert those into big hundreds. Sometimes you may get a hundred and your team loses, but it really counts when someone like Kedar gets a crucial forty and also pulls off a brilliant catch at forward short-leg (Kedar took a blinder of Saurabh Tiwari off the bowling of Rajesh Pawar). It's all about making it count in the bigger platform, and I too made it to the national team through a string of good performances in Duleep Trophy. With guys like Wasim Jaffer and Parthiv Patel around, Kedar has a lot to learn which should stand him in good stead. Samad Fallah: I had seen Fallah bowl last season. The basic difference I see in his bowling now and then is that he has improved on bowling the right line. Last year, he was erratic and had the tendency to spray the ball around. This season, he has worked on his consistency which has yielded him rich dividends (he has taken 33 wickets this season.Ameya Shrikhande: For the Ranji Trophy, the boys are together for three to four months for Mumbai. But in Duleep Trophy, we are together for two days which doesn't allow me to give a fair opinion of him. Plus, Maharashtra this season were not in our half, so I haven't seen much of him in match situations. But what I saw of him at the nets so far, I can tell you that Ameya seems to be a good student of the game. But that's not enough. He needs to grab whatever opportunities that comes his way, as chances doesn't come according to your own convenience.

Superb Spell

Sahil Kothari's 5-20 was the first five-wicket haul of the tournament, as it enabled Katariya wallop NMV by 91 runs to win the Rotary Midtown Inter-School Invitation Cricket Tournament
Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, February 1, 2009
One is not sure what Sahil Kothari had for breakfast on Sunday. Surely, he must have had something 'special' if his magnificent match-winning spell of 5 for 20 for Katariya High School against NMV High School is anything to go by.The 13-year-old left-arm spinner spun a web around the uptight NMV batsmen, which enabled Kataria High School pulverise NMV High School by 91 runs to win the Rotary Midtown Inter-School Invitation Cricket Tournament.What makes his Sahil's effort even more bodacious is the fact that his dream spell was the first five-wicket haul of the tournament, which also ensured that the tweaker also emerged the highest wicket-taker of the tourney. "No one had got a fiver till the final match in the tournament, which makes me happy. What's more, the five-wicket haul has also helped me to become the highest wicket-taker of the tourney, though I'm not finicky about records," said the suave, soft-spoken young turk, who owes his success to NMV High School coach Shakil Sheikh. "I owe this performance to Shakil sir. He was the one who taught me left-arm spin bowling and I'm grateful to him for that," gushes Sahil, who also trains at the Cadence Cricket Academy under coaches Surendra Bhave and Harshal Pathak.Actually, left-arm spin bowling didn't came naturally to Sahil. He was a left-arm medium-pacer, who switched to left-arm spin on a few months back. "I was primarily a left-arm medium-pacer for almost two years. It was during the LIC trophy in Mumbai that I fractured my left hand which prompted my NMV school coach Shakil sir to shun medium-pace bowling and turn to left-arm spin bowling only five months back. Since then, things have taken an upward turn for me," quipped Sahil. So what are the things he did right on Sunday to nullify the plans of the oppositon? "The wicket had some purchase. The ball was skidding onto the batsman. The NMV batsmen were grossly guilty of playing me from the backfoot when they should have played from the frontfoot," said Sahil, who idolises New Zealander left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori. "What I like about Daniel Vettori is that he is always at the batsman. He always looks to stifle the batsmen. I want to imbibe some of his qualities in my bowling," remarked the youngster, giving the impression of knowing what's the right path to chart.Brief Scores:Katariya High School 154 for 8 in 40 overs (Yash Nahar 33); NMV High School 63 all out in 22.1 overs (Sahil Kothari 5-20, Yash Nahar 3-7).

Shuttling to Success

Salute Her
Prachi Naidu, who travels everyday from Lonavla to practice at ClubSo-laris, savours her first round under-12 win

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, January 30, 2009

A first round victory in the under-12 category may not catapult her toin-stant stardom, but for ten-year-old Prachi Naidu, it was a winworth sa-vouring about.Nothing more can accentuate Prachi's desire to make it big in thesport than the fact that the fifth standard student of Auxilum Convent School, travels every day from Lonavla to hone her skills atthe Club Solaris courts. Her mother, Sandhya, a former na-tional kabaddi player for MadhyaPradesh, does all the spadework of bringing her kid everyday. "Weengage in four hours of travel five days a week to ensure her hertraining is not af-fected. I take a local train at 4.15 pm and reach Solaris at around 5.30 pm and she trains her for two hours till 7.30pm," Sandhya said, swelling with pride after her daugher brushed aside Brahamine Pingle 8-2.
For the record, Prachi took up tennis only six months back. What lends Prachi's win a special touch is the fact that the youngster took her unit test exams in the morning before dashing off to the venue with her mother. "Prachi gave her exams in the morn-ing from 8.30 am to10.30 am and then we took a local train at 11.00 pm and reached thevenue at 1.00 pm for the match. Prachi, for her part, feels it was her consistency wore downBrahamine. "I was ripping winners consistently which was beginning tounsettle her. The nerves got to her and she started hitting the net often which helped my cause," she fired a parting shot.

Racquet Story

Kushal Mulay's father had to buy a new racquet during his u-16 1st round tie against Jayesh Pingliya after he broke it during practice, but used a borrowed one to scrape through

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, January 27, 2009

Setbacks, small or big can pan out to be the clinching factor indeciding the result of a match. But, if a player manages to tide overthat and emerge as the win-ner, you got to give full credit to him.Kushal Mulay deserves all that. The thirteen-year-old broke his racquet while warming up for hisunder-16 first round tie against Jayesh Pingliya. His father, RajuMulay, who is a Residency Club coach, scampered out of the venue tobuy a new one for his son even as Kushal had to borrow a racquet fromone of the participating players. "I broke my racquet while serving during the customary warm-up session before the match against Jayesh. The racquet that I borrowed from one of the participants wasn't allowing me to play my natural game," moaned Kushal, who on Monday also made it to the second round of the under-14 category.
In fact, Kushal struggled to hold his serve four times before carving out a hard-fought 8-7 (7-5) romp to progress to the pre-quarterfinals of the under-16 category. "I was finding it difficult to hold my service with the borrowed racquet. It was even stevens at 5-4 before my dad got a new Head racquet for which he had to shell out Rs 8,200 as the only other racquet I had was with my elder sister Daksha, a former national-level junior player, who is currently using it while compet-ing in the ongoing Inter-University tourney in Gwalior. Luckilyfor me, I got the racquet in time as my opponent was threatening toseize the initiative," he breathed a sigh of relief.
Admitting that he didn't play as he would have liked, Kushal said hisopponent was unnecessarily getting rattled. "I was taking my own timein between points which was needling Jayesh. I think he got frustrated with that and start complaining to the umpire which of course had noeffect on me," he speaks his mind.
The ninth standard Singhad City School student gives us a shocker whenhe reveals his desire to shun academics and opt for tennis. "I am inninth standard but I don't think I will be taking the ninth standardexams as I will be mostly likely opt for a distance learning course sothat I get enough time to pursue tennis with utmost dedication."His father, Raju Mulay has ensured that his feet is kept firmlyplanted on the ground. "Kushal is a big Roger Federer fan. But I keeptelling him that every parents can't make his son become Federer. He has a long, long way to go in terms of improvement," his father presses the realistic button.

Non-committal

Indian hockey's ad-hoc committee convener Mohammed Aslam Khan mum on which of the two factions in MHA would get the right to host the National Championships

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, January 27, 2009

There may be a lot of hearts warming over Pune being allotted the National Hockey Championships later this year. But the one question that keep tongues wagging is that the city- has two hockey bodies - the Ikram Khan-led faction and the Benny Boodle-faction. In such a scenario, which one will earn the right to host the national ships? Indian hockey's ad-hoc committee convenor Mohammed Aslam Khan feels it's a non-issue. "You guys like to create controversies. But let me tell you that I'm not aware that there are two factions in Maharashtra Hockey Association (MHA)," he said, trying his best to sidestep the issue. But then, how can one overlook the reality of two factions functioning. Is the ad-hoc committee of Indian hockey looking at ways and means to sort things amicably? "As a convener of the Indian hockey's ad-hoc committee, I can only tell you that it's a trival issue to be given so much importance. Whatever call needs to be taken on it, ad-hoc committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi will act on it," Khan quipped.
With the championship likely to be held in two months time, is he willing to stick his neck out on a timeframe for the same? "I don't want to repeat what I had said. As I told you, Mr Kalmadi will decide," was how he put it.

Ray of hope

Suhrid Barua, Pune Mirror, January 20, 2008

It didn't happen once, not twice but thrice to Maharashtra cricketers.First it was Harshad Khadiwale and Samad Fallah who made it to theWest Zone Duleep Trophy team last season, but only contrived to warmthe bench. Then, it was the turn of Kedar Jadhav to make the cut forthe Deodhar Trophy team but even he also ended up being confined tothe sidelines. So, though recent history may not portent anythingauspicious when it comes to State players making to the zonal team,and actually going on to figure in the playing eleven.
So, would the outpouring of joy and bliss over three Maharashtracricketers – Kedar Jadhav, Ameya Shrikhande and Samad Fallah beingh picked in this season's West Zone Duleep Trophy team merely end upwith making the numbers? A close look at the West Zone team wouldsuggest that it won't be far-fetched to be an optimism as at least two of the three Maharashtra lads are primed to make the playing eleven this time around.
A peruse of the West Zone team would makes one fathom that the likesof skipper Wasim Jaffer, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, ParhivPatel (as wicketkeeper), Bhavik Thakkar are very much automaticchoices with Kedar Jadhav heavily tipped to take the fifth batsman's slot. Who knows even Ameya Shrikhande may be preferred over Gujarat'sBhavik Thakkar. Abhishekh Nayyar would be a firm favourite to take theall-rounder mantle.
Coming to the West Zone bowling attack, one can't simply overlookSamad Fallah's name of not being on the playing eleven. A rapidlyimproving youngster, Fallah could get the opportunity to share the newball with Dhawal Kulkarni with Siddharth Trivedi as the third seamer with the chunky Ramesh Powar as the lone tweaker in the eleven.
Of course, the team management will take the final call, one cansafely say this is the kind of team composition they would eye on.
So how does the likes of Kedar Jadhav and Samad Fallah fancy their chances of being in the playing eleven after experiencing the frustration of sitting out last season in Deodhar and Duleep Trophy respectively.
"It was a kind of learning curve to be in the Deodhar Trophy side lasttime, though the disappointment of not playing was very much there. I'm hopefull that this time I will get the opportunity of proving myworth," he remarked.
Seamer Fallah toed the same line. "Last season, I sat out of all the Duleep Trophy games. This time, I'm not going to be just happy atmaking the team but finding a berth in the eleven, as I want to provethat my good run in the Ranji season was no flash-in-the pan stuff."
Quiz West Zone selection committee chairman Surendra Bhave on thethree Maharashtra guys making the Duleep Trophy side and he offers a straight bat. It's not fair on my part to talk about their chances of figuring in the playing eleven. All I can say is that these boys deserved their berths in the side for the consistency they exuded throughout this season. Let's leave it at that."