Kanga League kicks off

Akhil Rajput, son of former India cricketer and coach Lalchand Rajput, has taken his father’s advice very seriously. Rajput Sr wants his son to make this season ‘big’ and Akhil started his season with a bang — an unbeaten 52 for Parkophene Cricketers on the opening day of the restructured Dr HD Kanga Cricket League on Saturday.

Akhil Rajput
Akhil Rajput

Akhil and Sumeet Meher (74) did the rescue act for Parkophene, who were at one stage, four down for 50 against MIG Cricket Club in the ‘A’ Division (Elite Group). At stumps, Parkophene were 158-8.

In the new Kanga League format, A, B and C divisions will play a one-and-half day game while the rest (D, E, F and G which make up the Plate Group) will stick to the old, one-day, play-to-finish format match.

Lalchand who is in Ahmedabad for an Indian cricket board coaching assignment, was delighted for his son. “I heard he batted very well. I had asked him to look to spend more time in the middle and not throw away his wicket. I want him to score a century tomorrow.

Only then he can come into the reckoning for U-25 teams. He has to make this season big as age is catching up. He also needs to control his aggression and work on shot selection,” said Rajput, the India ‘A’ coach.

Half-ton for Kaustubh
MUMBAI Ranji Trophy top-order batsman Kaustubh Pawar made the most of the helpful conditions to score an unbeaten 74 as Karnataka Sporting Association finished the day at 168 for one against Victory Cricket Club at Cross Maidan.

Kaustubh Pawar
Karnataka Sporting Association’s Kaustubh Pawar plays a defensive shot against Victory CC at Cross Maidan on Saturday. Pic/Bipin Kokate

The opening day of the Kanga League was a rather dull affair. Known to be a bowler’s paradise for its monsoon flavour, flat pitches meant the pacers had to bend their backs to earn rewards.

Pawar was delighted to start the season on a positive note. “It is good to start with some runs under the belt. The new format gives the players more of a chance to showcase their talent with each team playing 13 league matches,” said Pawar, who is was a part of the victorious India U-23 team in Singapore recently. His teammate Neelkanth Parab scored 61.

In a ‘B’ Division match, Kaustubh’s India U-23 captain Suryakumar Yadav smashed an unbeaten 76 for Dadar Union Sporting Club against Kandivli CA at Khar Gymkhana. Dadar Union ended the day with 183-2.

MCA embarrassed
IT was an embarrassing situation for some senior Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) officials. Immediately after the inauguration of the new season, the MCA officials were informed about the passing away of one of their former colleagues.

A decision was taken to observe two-minute silence at some clubs of Cross Maidan. Later, it was learnt that the MCA administrator was living albeit on life support.

Mumbai coach Sulakshan: I’m playing to scout talent
MUMBAI Ranji Trophy coach Sulakshan Kulkarni made an appearance in the Kanga League on Saturday by turning out for Apollo CC against Young Mohammedan CC at Azad Maidan.

Sulakshan Kulkarni
Sulakshan Kulkarni

The 46-year-old, who batted for around 45 minutes to score 24, explained the reason to don the whites again. “It is a completely new team, so they wanted me to get involved.

It’s one thing to guide and another to be involved as a player. It also gives me an opportunity to observe new talent closely with a number of matches being played at the same time,” said the former Mumbai stumper.

Nothing special about Kanga League now: Lalchand Rajput
The restructured format of the historic Kanga League received a thumbs up from most of the coaches and players MiD DAY spoke to on Saturday. But the late start to the tournament hasn’t gone down well. Many felt Kanga League’s purpose was lost once the MCA decided to remove the monsoon flavour.

Lalchand Rajput
Lalchand Rajput

Lalchand Rajput noted: “It won’t be the same anymore. Earlier, a batsman would get to play on three types of wickets in a day. In the morning it would be a bit wet. In the afternoon, the wicket would dry up with the sun shining and in the evening, it would ease out.

That made scoring runs very tough. One cannot experience that now with the tournament starting late. It is now reduced to just another tournament. There is nothing special about Kanga League.”

Former Mumbai U-19 coach Satish Samant said: “The new format will give the players more matches to prove themselves. The only thing I would have loved to have in this format is the inclusion of knockouts. The real test of a player is when he is under pressure.” 

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