Sports Reporter :
FORMER Vidarbha Under-15 skipper Kunal Shirish Lonkar passed away on Wednesday. The former all-rounder was just 33 years old. He was not feeling well since last week and had tested COVID positive on March 30. Lonkar, a resident of Dabha, is survived by his wife and a five-year-old son. It is said that Lonkar could not get a bed in any hospital on time. Lonkar had represented Vidarbha in the Under-15 and Under-17 age category in the BCCI tournaments. He was a right-handed middle-order batsman and part-time off-spinner. Lonkar was captain of Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Under-15 side in the 2003-04 season in the Polly Umrigar Trophy.
After scoring a half-century against the visiting Madhya Pradesh team at the old VCA ground at Civil Lines, Lonkar hammered 149 runs against Rajasthan at Bhilwara to impress the national junior selectors. He was promptly called to attend a two-day Indian team selection trials at Bangalore for the U-15 Asia Cup scheduled that was to be held at Sharjah.
He was unfortunate to miss the Indian bus. Lonkar later went on to represent Vidarbha in the Under-17 category too but those in the know how of thing said that he talented player lost focus after demise of his father. Lonkar played his best cricket during the season between 2001 and 2005. Batting at No 3 and No 4 positions, Lonkar had scored heavily in the local cricket and BCCI’s domestic tournaments for a couple of seasons. A student of St Xavier’s High School, Hingna and later Dhanwate National College, Lonkar used to play local cricket tournaments for Ramdaspeth Youth Sporting Club (RYSC) and Central India Sports Foundation (CISF) teams. When he was selected for Vidarbha team for Umrigar Trophy, he had his school-mates wicketkeeper Sunny Sharma and batsman Abhijit Kale, all student of class tenth then, as team members.