India had a rather good opening day of competition at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games on Friday. As the Indian women’s hockey and mixed badminton teams got convincing 5-0 wins in their opening matches, female cricketers suffered a narrow defeat. Then late in the day, swimmer Srihari Nataraj qualified for the final of the men’s 100m backstroke event.
Renuka Thakur’s devastating spell of 4/18 went in vain as Ashleigh Gardner’s 52 not out helped Australia defeat India by three wickets in their first Group A match of women’s T20 event. After skipper Harmanpreet Kaur slammed 52 off 34 balls and opener Shafali Verma chipped in with a 33-ball 48, Renuka’s magnificent opening burst took out Australia’s top four and with Deepti Sharma (2-26) taking out Rachael Haynes, Australia were in deep trouble at 49-5. But Gardner stitched stands of 51 with Grace Harris (37 off 20 balls) and 47 with Alana King (18 not out) to be unbeaten for a 35-ball 52, hitting nine boundaries under pressure to take Australia to a cracking victory on cricket’s comeback in the multi-sport event. They were also helped by the fact that apart from Renuka and Deepti, rest of the Indian bowling attack had an off day.
Things were far easier for the Indian badminton squad in the mixed team competition as they sent in heavyweights, two-time Olympic medallist PV. Sindhu and world championships silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth besides the ace doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty as India whitewashed minnows Pakistan 5-0 in their opening match in their preliminary round pool.
The mixed doubles pair of B Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwini Ponappa set the ball rolling for India as it defeated Mohammad Irfan Saeed Bhatti and Ghazala Siddique of Pakistan 21-8, 21-12 in straight games.
Srikanth then stepped into the court at the NEC Hall No 5 to get the better of Murad Ali, playing in his second successive Commonwealth Games, a 21-7, 21-12 defeat. World No 7 P.V Sindhu then sealed victory for India as she defeated Mahoor Shahzad 21-7, 216 in double quick time.
With India taking an unassailable 3-0 in the tie, world No. 8 men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty and the women’s pair of Treesa Jolly-Gayatri Gopichand also registered convincing victories to help India take maximum points from the tie, whitewash their opponents.
The Indian women’s table tennis team also started their defence of the title it won four years ago at Gold Coast by outplaying South Africa and Fiji by identical 3-0 margins with Manika Batra and Sreeja Akula leading from the front in their Group 2 preliminary round matches. Over in the men’s team event, Achinta Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran led India to comfortable 3-0 wins over Barbados and mighty Singapore in their opening matches. Bo the teams have booked their place in the quarter-finals.
The women’s hockey team too won its match against minnows Ghana, it missed a number of chances and could only manage a 5-0 win as Gurjit Kaur netted a brace as Neha, Sangita Kumari and Salima Tete scored one each.
In men’s swimming, Nataraj clocked personal best of 53.77s to make the cut for the 100m backstroke final. However, seasoned Sajan Prakash and debutant Kushagra Rawat failed to advance to the semifinal of their events respectively.
Shiva Thapa began his Commonwealth Games campaign on a rousing note by defeating Pakistan’s Suleman Baloch 5-0 via unanimous decision in the first round of the 63.5kg category.
In squash, India’s youngest member of the contingent Anahat Singh beats Jada Ross of St Vincent and the Grenadines 11-5, 11-2 11-0 in the Squash Women’s Singles, Preliminary Round Of 64. In the men’s singles event, Abhay Singh made short work of Joe Champan of the British Virgin Islands, winning 11-5, 11-5, 11-5.
In cycling, Indian men’s and women’s sprint teams along with the Indian men’s 4000m pursuit team failed to qualify for the finals at the Commonwealth Games.
Pragnya Mohan finished 26th with a time of 1:07:27 as Sanjana Sunil Joshi finished 28th with a time of 1:09:00 in the Women’s Individual (Sprint Distance).
In Lawn Bowling, India’s Tania Choudhury lost her opening Section B round of the Women’s singles event to Scotswoman Dee Hoggan 10-21 as the Indian men’s Triples unit lost 21-6 to New Zealand in the opening round of the Men’s triples lawn bowling event
In Artistic gymnastics, India ended the third subdivision with a total score of 108.9. Yogeshwar Singh picked up 11.3 in his floor exercise routine, 11.2 on the pommel horse, 11.950 on the rings, 13 in the vault, 13.450 in parallel bars and 12.7 on the horizontal bar. Syed Tamboli added a further 14.05 points with his performance on parallel bars while Satyajit Mondal managed to pick up 7.85 with his floor exercise and 13.4 in the vault.