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Mumbai's cricketing fraternity renews old friendships at Khar Gymkhana function

When cricket was just a game, Khar Gymkhana was the sole western suburbs venue on the Mumbai club scene. But it’s not only the location which stood out; the competitive yet happy-go-lucky team as well.

Abey Kuruvilla, Vighnesh Shahane and Balvinder Singh Sandhu
Former Mumbai pacers Abey Kuruvilla (left), Vighnesh Shahane and Balvinder Singh Sandhu. Pics/Nimesh Dave

Yesterday, the Gymkhana hosted an informal lunch for Mumbai’s cricketing fraternity and the function was as lively as the rain beating on concrete and turf outside the party room.

Cricketers, administrators, journalists mingled amiably and not for a minute did they regret their decision to brave the heavy rain. Kanga League memories were evoked through the weather and presence of some of Khar Gymkhana’s regulars like former Test star Salim Durani, Mumbai stalwarts Abdul Ismail, Ranjan Baindoor and All India schools and Universities player Bharat Kunderan, Harendra ‘Kandly’ Upadhya and Suryakant Baindoor. The late Arun Wagh, Nitin Shirodkar and Prakash Vagal were sorely missed.

Salim Durani and Dilip Vengsarkar
Salim Durani (centre) gets a chuckle out of Dilip Vengsarkar

Election buzz
With the Mumbai Cricket Association elections scheduled for August, there was no shortage of buzz over the possibility of former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar (present at the function) standing for elections.

Ditto about Sharad Pawar entering the fray after reportedly sorting out his permanent address glitch. People in the know spoke about a plan to have a ground and clubhouse at Bhandup and that will mean memberships on offer for clubs. “And votes too,” a keen observer whispered.

Ajit Pai
Former Test bowler Ajit Pai (right) with Indian Gym’s K Satyamurthy

And while the ice cubes clinked in the tumblers, conversations over the recent silence of cricketers towards the spot fixing scandal surfaced as well. One former player was emphatic.

“Tell me, how can they (some sections of the media) expect former players to talk about whether N Srinivasan should resign? We cannot have an opinion because we don’t run cricket. All we can say is that this scandal is detrimental to the game.”

Dilip Vengsarkar, Iqbal Bhabha, Ranjan Baindoor and Vasu Paranjape
Dilip Vengsarkar, Iqbal Bhabha, former Mumbai players Ranjan Baindoor and Vasu Paranjape with journalist Raju Bharatan (right) at the Khar Gymkhana yesterday afternoon

Prominent BCCI official Prof Ratnakar Shetty and Mumbai Cricket Association president Ravi Savant made it before leaving for Delhi to attend the BCCI Emergency Meeting to be held today.

G K Menon and Raju Bharatan, two of Mumbai cricket’s senior-most journalists, were around and so were former India players Bapu Nadkarni, Umesh Kulkarni, Ajit Pai, Kenia Jayantilal, Padmakar Shivalkar (the spinner played unofficial Tests vs Sri Lanka in 1973-74), Suru Nayak, Balvinder Singh Sandhu, Raju Kulkarni, Chandrakant Pandit, Praveen Amre, Abey Kuruvilla and Nilesh Kulkarni. 

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