Darpan Saini carries passion for cricket across borders

Moving to the Bay Area from Pennsylvania last December, Darpan Saini jumped at the opportunity to play organized cricket.

In Pittsburgh, where Saini lived for three years working toward his Masters degree at Carnegie Mellon University, cricket season was limited to the summer.

As a Foster City resident — a short commute to Redwood Shores where Saini is a software engineer at Oracle — he is delighted with the climate that is reminiscent of home: Bangalore, India.

“I started playing a little bit after I started walking,” said Saini, who played for his school and college teams in Bangalore. “The saying goes that cricket is like religion in India; all of the other games put together would not be as big as cricket.”

Saini played for the San Mateo Cricket Club last winter, but switched to the Peninsula Rangers of the Bay Area Cricket Alliance for its summer league, which is wrapping up this month.

The Rangers are finishing up in the middle of the pack of the nine-team league, although Peninsula did notch a victory over the league-dominating San Jose Demons in a low-scoring affair that featured the team nearly blowing a substantial early lead.

As an “all-arounder,” a player who is both an accomplished bowler and batsman, Saini is finishing the season in the league’s top 10 of both statistical categories, a rarity among cricketers to be proficient in both disciplines. In baseball terms, this may be compared to a pitcher with a .300 batting average.

As that rare double threat, Saini was selected to represent the BACA in an All-Star tournament against a Southern California contingent but opted out due to a leg injury. Completely healed, the 5-foot-8, 145-pound Saini is set to play for the Rangers in the BACA winter league commencing next month.

Returning to the beloved sport of his youth, Saini has been pleased with his game.

“I realized that I’m much better now than I used to be,” Saini said. “That’s typical, I guess, because I’m more knowledgeable of the game than I was.”

At age 27, Saini has learned that you don’t need to bowl the fastest or hit the ball the hardest to be successful.

“Cricket is a stylish game,” Saini said. “I’m a swing bowler. I don’t bowl the ball very fast, but I can swing the ball either way.”

With no family in the United States — his nearest relatives are in Toronto — Saini is happy to enjoy his teammates and a familiar friend, the game of cricket.


Cricket basics

HOW TO SCORE: Three ways to score in cricket; one run is scored when a batsman beats the throw to the crease after hitting the ball; four runs are scored when a batsman hits the ball and it rolls to the edge of the field’s boundary; six runs are scored on a “home run” on the fly.

GLOVES? Only the wicket keeper carries a glove.

UNIFORM: White shirt, white pants and white shoes, and protective gear, as the ball is hard and travels fast.

INFO: www.bayareacricket.org

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