CWG: Badminton, hockey and time trial teams make winning debuts; Thapa, Nataraj excellent

The men’s and women’s table tennis teams, the star badminton squad and the women’s hockey team won their respective first-round matches, as did boxer Shiv Thapa as India got off to a strong start at the Commonwealth Games here Friday.


There was even more success for the country as backstroker Srihari Nataraj qualified for the 100m semi-finals while his other two teammates Kushagra Rawat and Sajan Prakash failed to progress in their respective freestyle events.

The country is hoping for its first medals of the 2022 Games when weightlifters led by impressive Olympic silver medalist Mirabai Chanu take to the podium to lift heavy loads.

These were team competitions on the first day of competition for India.

The women’s table tennis team led by 2018 CWG star Manika Batra shut out South Africa 3-0 as 2018 gold medalists India got off to a winning start in the competition women’s team event at the National Exhibition Centre, Solihull, here on Friday.

Manika won her singles match in back-to-back matches against Musfiquh Kalam after Reeth Tennison and Sreeja Akula got the ball rolling by winning the opening doubles match. Sreeja Akula beat Danisha Patel for a comprehensive 3-0 victory for the favorites.

In the men’s team competition, Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan didn’t have to sweat as India beat Barbados 2-0 in a group league preliminary game.

The makeshift pair of Sathiyan and Harmeet beat Kevin Farley and Tyrese Knight 11-9, 11-9 and 11-4 in back-to-back matches. Although the first two games looked close, the Indians were never in danger of losing a game even though their opponents put up a good fight.

Sharath Kamal, 40, then came to the table and made short work of Ramon Maxwell. beating it 3-0 (11-5, 11-3, 11-3) to make it 2-0 for India.

Sathiyan then sealed victory for India by beating Tyrese Knight 3-0 (11-4, 11-4, 11-5) to seal the comfortable victory for the defending champions.

Things were as easy for the Indian badminton team in the mixed team competition as they dispatched heavyweight, two-time Olympic medalist PV. Sindhu and world championship silver medalist Kidambi Srikanth plus the pair of doubles aces of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty as India shut out Pakistan 5-0 in their pool opener of the preliminary round.

The mixed doubles pair of B Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwini Ponappa got the ball rolling for India by beating Pakistan’s Mohammad Irfan Saeed Bhatti and Ghazala Siddique 21-8, 21-12 in consecutive matches.

Srikanth then took to the court at NEC Hall No 5 to get the better of Murad Ali, playing in his second consecutive Commonwealth Games, a 21-7, 21-12 loss. World number 7 PV Sindhu then sealed India’s victory by beating Mahoor Shahzad 21-7, 216 in quick double time.

As India won an unassailable 3-0 draw, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty’s men’s doubles pair and Treesa Jolly-Gayatri Gopichand’s women’s doubles pair also recorded convincing wins to help India to take maximum points from the tie, whitewash their opponents.

In cricket, the Indian women’s team made a losing start against Australia in the first match of the CWG 2022. Australia beat India by three wickets in the first group A match of the women’s T20 event at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Edgbaston.

After skipper Harmanpreet Kaur slammed 52 from 34 and fly-half Shafali Verma participated with a 48 from 33, India went 154/8 in 20 overs. Renuka’s magnificent opening flurry knocked out Australia’s top four and with Deepti Sharma (2-26) knocking out Rachael Haynes, Australia were in deep trouble at 49-5. But Ashleigh Gardner stitched up stands of 51 with Grace Harris (37 from 20 balls) and 47 with Alana King (18 not out) to go unbeaten for a 35-ball 52, to take Australia to a resounding victory on the return of the cricket in the multi-event sport.

The women’s hockey team also won their game against Ghana minnows, they missed a number of chances and could only manage a 5-0 victory against a Ghana team who defended deep and with all the players behind the ball.

The Indian side, looking to redeem themselves after a sub-par performance at the FIH Women’s World Cup in the Netherlands and Spain earlier this month, made a tentative start, scoring one goal apiece in the first two quarters before slamming two goals in the third and finally wrapping things up with a goal in the fourth quarter.

Gurjit Kaur opened the scoring for India in the third minute when she slammed home the brakes from a penalty corner to make it 1-0 for India. Forward Neha made it 2-0 with a basket in the 28th minute; Sangita Kumari made it 3-0 in the 36th minute before Gurjit converted a penalty kick to make it 4-0 for India. Youngster Salima Tete scored India’s fifth goal four minutes from time.

The experienced and explosive Shiva Thapa got the ball rolling for Indian boxers with a dominating 5-0 unanimous decision win over Pakistan’s Suleman Baloch in the men’s light welterweight (60kg-63.5kg) division to qualify for the pre-quarterfinals here.

Playing from the red corner, Shiva, the only Indian boxer exposed on the opening day of the competition, started strong and gave his opponents no chance as he took a unanimous decision for a victory on points.

The seasoned Shiva threw a flurry of punches at the start of each of the three rounds and was marked as the winner by all five courtside judges. It was scored 30-26, 30-25, 30-28, 30-36, 30-26 and 30-23 for the bout by all five judges.

Nataraj qualified well qualifying fifth in the men’s 100 backstroke with a time of 54.68 seconds. Competing in the third heat, Nataraj finished third and qualified fifth overall among the 35 swimmers who took part in the competition.

In the men’s 50m freestyle, Sajan Prakash couldn’t advance as he finished 24th with a time of 25.01.

There was also disappointment for Kushagra Rawat as he finished eighth in round 3 and placed 14th overall in 3:57.45 as 10 swimmers advanced to the next round.–IANS


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