Birmingham: Indian commuters and paddlers crushed their hapless rivals on the opening day of Commonwealth Games competition here.
India’s women’s hockey team also got off to a winning start but were far from impressive in a 5-0 win over Ghana in their Pool A game. a way to break through the defense of the African nation as the midfield and forward line lacked cohesion.
India’s perennial problem of converting penalty corners was again on full display, with the team only using 1 in 10 chances. On the contrary, Ghanaian keeper Abigail Boye made phenomenal saves to mark the spirits and was well supported by his backline.
Gurjit Kaur (3rd, 39th minute) scored twice, while Neha Goyal (28th), Sangita Kumari (36th) and Salima Tete (56th) each scored a basket.
Blank Pakistan Shuttles
Filled with world-class performers, India expected Pakistan to be axed in a lopsided 5-0 win in the mixed team event.
World number 11 Kidmabi Srikanth, former world champion PV Sindhu picked up victory in the singles, while all three pairs of doubles also cruised to the wins to inflict a daub on the neighboring nation.
The chasm in the classroom was evident as Pakistanis struggled to match the high standards set by Indians.
“We came here to definitely win the gold medal. We will set our goals properly and at the same time we don’t really think about the negative sides, like who we face in the semi-finals or the final.
“We are just focused on doing well and winning the gold medal,” Srikanth said.
Soft start for paddlers
India’s men’s and women’s table tennis teams had easy starts to their respective campaigns with identical 3-0 wins over Barbados and South Africa. Later, the women crushed Fiji 3-0 in their second group match.
In a Group 3 game against the Barbados minnows, the pair of Harmeet Desai and G Sathiyan crushed Kevin Farley and Tyrese Knight 11-9, 11-9, 11-4, while veteran Sharath Kamal did not a mouthful of Ramon Maxwell 11-5, 11-3, 11-3 in less than 15 minutes.
Sathiyan barely broke a sweat before knocking out Tyrese Knight 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 to seal the tie.
On the women’s side, first on the 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 give head to India.
Then defending Commonwealth Games champion Manika Batra, who became the first Indian table tennis player to win a women’s singles gold medal last edition, lived up to her bill and defeated 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 single to seal the tie for India.
Easy day for Shiva Thapa
Boxer Shiva Thapa outclassed Pakistani Suleman Baloch in the first round of the 63.5 kg category. Having lived with the disappointment of missing out on his second consecutive Olympics in Tokyo last year, the former Asian champion was far superior to his bigger and more aggressive rival to emerge 5-0 winner in his category of welterweight.
Successful first day for Srihari Natraj
Srihari Nataraj clocked 54.68 seconds to advance to the men’s 100m backstroke semifinals. The 21-year-old from Bengaluru was the third fastest swimmer in his race and fifth overall.
If he had clocked his personal best of 53.77 seconds, he would have dominated the heats. The fastest swimmer in the peloton was South African Pieter Coetze with a time of 53.91.
However, veteran Sajan Prakash and rookie Kushagra Rawat failed to advance to the semi-finals of their respective events.
Prakash finished eighth in the heats with a time of 25.01 in the men’s 50 butterfly. The top 16 athletes qualified for the semi-finals.
Kushagra also finished last in the men’s 400m freestyle, stopping the clock at 3:57.45s.
Prakash and Kushagra are still alive in the competition as they will be competing in other events.
While Prakash will present his challenge in the men’s 100m and 200m butterfly, Kushagra will compete in the men’s 1,500m freestyle and 200m freestyle.
The cyclists endured a difficult day with the men’s sprint team of Ronaldo Laitonjam, Y Rojit Singh, David Beckham Elkatohchoongo failing to qualify for the medal round, finishing sixth in qualifying with a total time of 44.702 seconds at the Lee Valley VeloPark.
They were 2.480 seconds behind the leading Australians.
The two fastest teams will battle it out for gold while the third and fourth runners-up from the qualifying round will battle it out for bronze.
The women’s sprint team also didn’t do better than the men’s team as they finished seventh in the qualifying round with a total time of 51.433.
India’s men’s 4000m pursuit team – Venkappa Kengalagutti, Dinesh Kumar and Vishavjeet Singh – finished sixth and last in qualifying with a total time of 4:12.865, 23.044 seconds faster than the leader from New Zealand.