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Former Mumbai wicketkeeper Kiran Ashar dies aged 69

Kiran Ashar played seven first-class matches and scored 306 runs, including a century Clayton Murzello

Kiran Ashar, the former Mumbai wicketkeeper, died in Mumbai on Saturday afternoon after a prolonged illness. He was 69. Ashar had been hospitalised since last December, following a brain hemorrhage, and also suffered from heart and kidney-related ailments. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

Ashar, a former India schools player, played seven first-class matches and scored 306 runs, including a century. He made his first-class debut for Mumbai in the 1968-69 Irani Cup, after replacing regular wicket-keeper Sharad Hazare. However, he sustained a groin injury while keeping to left-arm spinner Padmakar Shivalkar and didn't play for Mumbai again until the 1976-77 Ranji Trophy season.

Ashar was recalled for the semi-final against Tamil Nadu in Mumbai where he scored 86 and 4* in his team's 10-wicket win. He went on to play only one more season of first-class cricket. In local cricket, Ashar turned out for Sunder CC, a club founded by his father Pratapsinh Ashar, a cricket enthusiast. He also represented CCI for two seasons, and toured Australia with the team in 1981-82.

Once his playing career wound down, Ashar took to coaching youngsters. Clayton Murzello, group sports editor at Mid-Day and Ashar's friend for several years, remembers him as a passionate coach who trained underprivileged children for free. "I remember how he had once fallen and hurt his head, but still went ahead with his coaching," Murzello told ESPNcricinfo.

Murzello recalled an incident when Ashar coached St. Mary's ICSE to a win over Shardashram Vidyamandir in the final of the famous Giles Shield inter-school tournament. "It is very rare for Shardashram to lose a big game," Murzello said. "This team featured Sachin Tendulkar and Amol Muzumdar, and I think Tendulkar got out to a left-arm spinner for 4."