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Sports

CWG 2022 Day 1: India Win In Hockey, Badminton & Table Tennis, Go Down Against Australia In Cricket

Packed with world class performers, India expectedly made mincemeat of Pakistan in a lop-sided 5-0 win in the mixed team event.

Commonwealth Games: Table Tennis
Birmingham: Indian (red) women table tennis players D.Chaitale and S.Akula in action against T.Titana and G.Yee of Fiji during Commonwealth Games 2022, at National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, UK, Friday, July 29, 2022. (PTI Photo/Swapan Mahapatra)

Birmingham: The “killer instinct” was nowhere to be seen when Australia put the Indian women’s cricket team under the pump but the country’s shuttlers and paddlers steamrolled their hapless rivals on the opening day of Commonwealth Games competition here.

The Indian women’s hockey team was also off to a winning start but it was far from impressive in a 5-0 victory over Ghana in its Pool A game. It took some time for the Indian players to find a way in breaching the African nation’s defence as the mid-field and forward line lacked cohesion.

India’s perennial problem of penalty corner conversion was highlighted again with the team utilising just one out of 10 chances. On the contrary, Ghana goalkeeper Abigail Boye made some phenomenal saves to make an impression and was well supported by her backline.

Gurjit Kaur (3rd, 39th minutes) scored a brace, while Neha Goyal (28th), Sangita Kumari (36th) and Salima Tete (56th) struck a field goal each.

Cricket Team Loses From Winning Position

India vs Australia CWG
India’s Smriti Mandhana plays a shot during the Group A women’s Twenty20 cricket match between Australia and India of the Commonwealth Games at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Friday. (ANI Photo/Australian Women’s Cricket Team Twitter)

All-rounder Pooja Vastrakar had exhorted the team to imbibe “killer instinct” but it could not deliver the knockout punch even when the rival was staggering.

It was always an onerous task for the Indian cricket team to challenge the mighty Australians but Harmanpreet Kaur’s side put itself in a winning position before shooting itself in the foot.

After scoring a decent 154 for eight, the Indians had them on the mat at 49 for five, but the reigning world champions eventually pulled off a three-wicket win with Ashleigh Gardner (52 not out off 35 balls) raising game-changing stands of 51 and 47 with Grace Harris (37) and Alana King (18 not out) respectively.

It meant that Renuka Singh’s dream spell went in vain. She broke the backbone of the Australian batting with figures of four for 18 in four overs, raising hopes of a comfortable win, but it was not to be.

Easy Day For Shiva Thapa

Ace boxer Shiva Thapa outclassed Pakistan’s Suleman Baloch in the first round of the 63.5kg category. Having lived with the disappointment of not making his second successive Olympics in Tokyo last year, the former Asian champion was far superior than his taller and aggressive rival to emerge 5-0 winner in his light welter weight category.

Shiva Thapa
Indian boxer Shiva Thapa wins in first round at Birmingham CWG.

Shuttlers Blank Pakistan

Packed with world class performers, India expectedly made mincemeat of Pakistan in a lop-sided 5-0 win in the mixed team event.

World number 11 Kidmabi Srikanth, former world champion P V Sindhu cruised to singles win, while the three doubles pairs also strolled to victories to inflict a whitewash on the neighbouring nation.

The gulf in class was evident as the Pakistanis struggled to match the high standards set by the Indians.

“We have come here to definitely win the gold. We will set our targets right and at the same time we are not really thinking about the negative sides of it like whom we are facing in the semifinals or final.

“We’re just focused on doing well and winning the gold,” Srikanth said.

Smooth Start For Paddlers

India’s men and women table tennis teams had easy starts to their respective campaigns with identical 3-0 victories over Barbados and South Africa. Later, the women crushed Fiji 3-0 in their second group match.

In a group 3 match against minnows Barbados, the pair of Harmeet Desai and G Sathiyan steamrolled Kevin Farley and Tyrese Knight 11-9, 11-9, 11-4, while veteran Sharath Kamal made short work of Ramon Maxwell 11-5, 11-3, 11-3 in less than 15 minutes.

Sathiyan hardly broke a sweat before disposing off Tyrese Knight 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 to seal the tie.

Commonwealth Games: Table Tennis
Indian women table tennis player Manika Batra in action against T.Titana of Fiji in group league singles match during Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham, UK, Friday, July 29, 2022. (PTI Photo)

In the women’s event, the first on court was the doubles duo of Sreeja Akula and Reeth Tennison, who combined well to beat the South African pair of Lailaa Edwards and Danisha Patel 11-7 11-7 11-5 to hand India the lead.

Then, reigning Commonwealth Games champion Manika Batra, who became the first Indian table tennis player to win a gold in the women’s singles in the last edition, lived up to her billing and thrashed Musfique Kalam 11-5 11-3 11-2 in the first singles match.

Akula then came back and scored a dominating 11-5 11-3 11-6 win over Patel in the second singles to seal the tie for India.

Success for Srihari Natraj, Other Swimmers Struggle

Srihari Nataraj clocked 54.68s to qualify for the semifinals of the men’s 100m backstroke event. The 21-year-old from Bengaluru was the third fastest swimmer in his heat and fifth fastest overall.

If he had clocked his personal best of 53.77s he would have topped the heats. The fastest swimmer in the field was South Africa’s Pieter Coetze who clocked 53.91.

However, the seasoned Sajan Prakash and debutant Kushagra Rawat failed to advance to the semifinal of their respective events.

Prakash finished eighth in the heats with a timing of 25.01 in men’s 50m butterfly event. The best 16 athletes progressed to the semis.

Kushagra too finished last in the men’s 400m freestyle event as he stopped the clock at 3:57.45s.

Both Prakash and Kushagra are still alive in the competition as they will compete in other events.

While Prakash will present his challenge in men’s 100m and 200m butterfly, Kushagra will compete in men’s 1500m freestyle and 200m freestyle.

Cyclists Disappoint

The cyclists endured a tough day with the men’s sprint team of Ronaldo Laitonjam, Y Rojit Singh, David Beckham Elkatohchoongo failing to make it to the medal round, finishing sixth in the qualification with a total time of 44.702 seconds at the Lee Valley VeloPark.

They were 2.480 seconds behind the first place finishers Australia.

The fastest two teams will race for gold while the third and fourth finishers in the qualifying round compete for bronze.

The women’s sprint team also did not do better than the men’s side as it ended at seventh in the qualifying round with a total time of 51.433.

The Indian men’s 4000m pursuit team — Venkappa Kengalagutti, Dinesh Kumar and Vishavjeet Singh — finished sixth and last in the qualification with a total time of 4:12.865, which was 23.044 seconds more than the leader New Zealand.