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August - September 2007

India Sport Scene

Badminton - Tennis - Cricket

by Ramesh Seedhar, Dr C. P Dalvi & Sudhir Misra

Sudirman Cup World Badminton Team Championships.

The Indian Badminton team fought hard but failed to surpass the Division 3 promotional hurdle against France as they went down 3-0 in the play-off match. They were taking part in the Sudirman Cup Badminton Team championship in Glasgow, Scotland, where 48 nations split into six Divisions had entered

Despite some of their key players missing due to an internal dispute, India showed a commendable performance by winning their Group (Group B). However they could not beat France, the other Group winners in Division 2. (Group A)

India’s bid to get a place in the higher division for the first time since the inception of the tournament again came unstuck as they lost all the three matches to France. The mixed doubles pair of V Diju and Aparna Balan won the first game against world ranked No. 21 combination of Stoyanov Svetoslav and Elodie Eymard and went down fighting 19-21 21-19 21-17 in an match that lasted 45 minutes. Sania Nehwal, ranked 39, was up against World number 6, Pi Hongyan in the women’s singles event. Sania lost 16-21, 21-15, 9-21. In men’s singles, Anup Sridhar rekindled some hope when he took the first game against Erwin Kehlhoffner but alas lost the match 21-11 11-21 17-21. Thus India’s challenge ended.

China, the runaway winners, retained the trophy by winning the Gold medal. Indonesia got the silver and England the bronze. This is the first time that England has won a medal in Division 1.

According to Pullela Gopichand, the chief coach of the Indian team, India should now focus on a long-term training and strategy, if they are to build depth for competing against badminton powerhouses such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia, The 2001 All England men’s champion, was appointed last year in a bid to galvanise talent and take India to the next level felt frustrated. His push for long-duration camps set off a controversy when the Indian badminton federation refused to enter three top players in open international events

The three players Chetan Anand, Jwala Gupta and Shruti Kurian had boycotted the training camp. Indian men’s number one Chetan Anand and top women’s duo Jwala Gutta and Shruti Kurian bitterly complained after they were axed for the Sudirman Cup. The trio argued that their priority is to earn qualifying points to make it to the Beijing Olympics and not attending camps mainly focused on preparing juniors for the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi.

According to Gopichand, it was something that could have been avoided. The issue has now been sorted out and it would not mar the build-up to the world championships in Kuala Lumpur in August, the sport’s next big set-piece after Glasgow

Indian Players in England Line Up

As in Cricket and Boxing, Indians are now making their presence felt in the English Badminton rankings. Rajiv Ouseph of Middlesex is currently ranked England’s number 2 in Singles and has the world ranking of 50. In the Ladies Doubles Suzanne Rayappan of Hertfordshire with her partner Wallwork enjoys English ranking of 5 and World ranking of 38. In the Mixed Doubles event with her partner David Lindley of Nottinghamshire she is ranked 5 in England and 24 in the world.

Podium success for S D Roy on Rally of the Midlands

 Indian driver S D Roy claimed his first success as he finished third in round three of the British Rally Championship (BRC) the Rally of the Midlands in June this year

Roy and co-driver Max Hall safely brought home their 1400cc MG ZR to claim 16 points on the series leader board. They also ended-up second in the FIA class and 31st overall on the three-day tarmac event.

The Milton Keynes driver, on the first day had a relatively smooth run across the 100 miles of competitive stage action on the Nuneaton-based rally He was slower on the second day but managed to finish and earn some points where many other drivers failed to complete the course  

Roy said after his success that he enjoyed the event and had a good run except for the incident with the barrier, “ but we got round which is what matters and the stages were good fun.”

Roy will next be in action across the tarmac in July in the Isle of Man-based Manx Stars Rally. The event is a double-header as it forms rounds four and five of the British Rally Championship (BRC) Stars 1400 Championship.


India’s Bronze medal in the Azlan Shah Hockey tournament should not be needlessly over projected but instead under played.

The 2007 edition of the Azlan Shah Trophy at Ipoh, Malaysia, was the testing ground for the eight competing nations in preparation for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. For India was the second successive Bronze medal for India with a performance where there were many signs of encouragement and hope.

Firstly the coach Joaquim Carvalho has succeeded in injecting some self belief in the team. He also has formatted a system of training by reducing the workload and cutting on long and monotonous sessions. His main emphasis in training lies on aggression supported by an organised defensive phalanx.

Those who followed the fortunes of Indian hockey were not disappointed with what Carvalho has achieved and appreciated the vibrancy of the India attack and their consistency in the midfield. A place in the final was not beyond India’s reach. The Indians need to know that this is only the first step and the road to Beijing is both long and arduous one. A lot still remains to be done but the team is on the right path.

Australia who won the tournament also experimented with a new young squad supplemented with some senior players both in defence as well in attack.

Malaysia, who got the silver medal, can also look back on this tournament with some satisfaction. On the road to recovery after disastrous two years since 2004, their youth programme seems to be paying rich dividends. Their new coach Sarjit Singh a no nonsense man with a lot of fire in him has taken Malaysia nearly to the top. He is not far away from achieving glory for Malaysia.

It was sad to see Pakistan slide away to sixth place. After being held to a draw in the early rounds the Pakistan team progressively lost its sting, steam and even the system that had previously won acclaim the world over. The problem for Pakistan is to find adequate replacements for their stars like Sohail Abbas, Saqlain and Shakeel Abbasi. The team management at the moment has a lot to think about.


India slipped into the tour of England without any pomp and fanfare which normally greets a touring side. They came unnoticed from Scotland where the one day game against their arch rival Pakistan was washed out. Before that they had visited Ireland where they beat the hosts in the one day international and also South Africa 2-1 in the one day competition.

The weather and the fact that England has been entertaining the West Indies may be the reason that concentrated interest in them will not be forthcoming until they play their first test against England at Lords.

In their warm up games against Sussex India rested Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Zaheer Khan. The Indian team was strengthened by the arrival of Wasim Jaffer, V.V.S.Laxman and Anil Kumble was pitched straight into the fray in order to give them valuable practice.

Dinesh Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid and V.V.S.Laxman all passed fifty laying strong claims to be included in the first test. Anil Kumble too settled quickly into his nagging line and length and also should be strong contender for the first test. If India can maintained the form that saw them beat Bangla Desh earlier it should make for a very entertaining and intriguing series.

Chance to Shine

More than 1000 children skipped school in June this year to participate in the programme “Chance to Shine” a programme to regenerate competitive cricket in state schools in England.

The Director of the Cricket Foundation, Nick Gandon stated that Chance to Shine is not about finding the next England stars, but helping children to develop as leaders, team players and strategists while learning to win lose and handle those things that are perceived to be unfair.

One teenager already beginning to shine is Annesh Kapil, who plays for Tettenhall College and Wolverhampton Cricket Club. The thirteen year old is opening the batting for Wolverhampton in the first division of the Birmingham and District League and is believed to be the youngest person in England to play at that level since premier leagues were introduced by ECB nine years ago.

Kapil plays for Staffordshire in Under 15s and is likely to be selected for the Midlands in Bunbury festival in Hull that brings together 60 most talented under 15 cricketers in England.

Kapil has benefited from Coaching from Vikram Solanki, England One day International. Solanki did not make his first team debut in the League until he was

A Wolverhampton Captain predicts that Kapil is good enough to play for the County side this year and they can see him playing first class cricket at the age of 15.

John Petfield, Tettenhall’s master in charge of cricket, where Kapil is studying on a 10 year old cricket scholarship believes that Kapil will one day represent England. He has not seen a more talented lad in more than 20 years teaching.

Kapil’s technique has impressed everybody who has come in contact with him

Agony of Inzamam ul Haq on the death of Bob Woolmer

A man died in Pegasus Hotel in Jamaica. He was no ordinary man. He was Bob Woolmer, Pakistan’s Cricket Coach.

His death sparked a grievous train of events, allegations, investigations, and rumour. The tragic death was said to be murder by strangulation, wolf bane poisoning, and linked to match fixing by criminals. It was the death knell of cricket and the most astonishing whodunit in the history of sport.

Now according to Jamaican police it was death by natural causes. Pakistan team were vindicated and the Woolmer’s family are relived to know that it was not murder.

According to Inzamam-ul-Haq Pakistan captain of the world cup team, the last ten days in the Caribbean were the hardest days in his life. He went through hell He was always hopeful and confident that Bob died naturally and the Jamaican doctors had made a mistake.

“I do not know what really happened but it was very hurtful for Bob’s family. It was not good for the players and for Pakistan cricket. We were already very depressed after losing to Ireland. We knew that we had let the country down and that we would be leaving the World Cup. Then to go through all that we did, with the police interviews and the World media after us, made it very tough and I would not like to go through it again.”

Table Tennis

The World Championships in Zagreb were all about the supremacy of China.

The five finals in Zagreb were all Chinese affairs for the third time in Championship’s history.

China’s absolute domination of the World Championships has sparked calls for the country to help develop table tennis beyond its borders. China has been asked to lead not only in the development of skill and techniques but also make efforts in training of coaches and players from backward countries and providing them with the necessary infrastructure.

In order to improve the attractiveness of the sport, a healthy competition is vital which at present is not there. At the current assessment China will repeat the performance at the Beijing Olympics next year.


There is nothing like a friendly rivalry and competition to bring the best of sport. This is particularly true for individual sports rather than team sports. Tennis in particular has enjoyed most success with rivalry between the stars like Borg, Connors and McEnroe lifting the game to new heights. Now we have Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer playing for the title of the world’s best player.

Rafael Nadal is the present King of Clay while Roger Federer remains supreme on other surfaces.

Roger Federer still believes that despite his defeat at the French Open one day he can win the French Open Championships and complete his career grand slam. This belef is still there despite losing in the final for the second straight year to the King of Clay Rafael Nadal.

Losing the French Open was the bitter pill to swallow for the world number one. Following two months of hard labour on his least favourite surface he thought that he could win the only major title that has deluded him. It was the eighth time he has played the tournament and the eight times he has come short.

Federer paid tribute to the Spaniard saying that he fully deserved his victory at the French Open. Nadal proved that he the stronger on that day.

Rafael Nadal is so relentless, so demanding, so pushy that Roger Federer has yet to achieve the standard required to subdue Rafael. It is a terrific conundrum that a man that is rightfully considered to be possibly the best player of all time cannot completely subdue the number two player of his own era. However on grass it is a different story.

The All England Championships at Wimbeldon, Federer calls his own having won the title five times in a row equalling the record set by Bjorn Borg.

This years Wimbeldon men’s singles final was majestic and reached the height of greatness which only two inspired athletes can demonstrate. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer pitched against each other in their prime with wills to succeed brought the best out of each other.

The result was awesome. The scarred each other with mortal blows but recovered and healed to strike a more powerful blow. Such things were possible, not because both were full time winners but because they know and despise the pain of losing.

At the end of the final Federer crumbled to the grass, a face in agony of relief. As his shoulders shook and tears rolled from his eyes, one could see the sports man who had given everything for that treasured moment.

Nadal was not broken by his loss in the fifth set, in fact his reputation was enhanced. He smiled on the court and deferred to the greater man of the day.

Federer was not an arrogant winner. He seemed humbled by the enormity of the event, the powers of his rival, the making of history and the burden of achieving it under the eyes of Bjorn Borg, McEnroe, Connors and other Wimbeldon Champions.

The memory of Wimbeldon 2007 was rescued by the quality of the final. It was an exquisite climax to a wretched fortnight of rain interrupting games.

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