Wednesday, 29 August, 2007

Sarang tunes in to lift U-16 boy’s title

Photo: Mukund Bhute

Sarang Lakhani in action

B D Narayankar

Second seed Sarang Lakhani of Nagpur created a flutter in the U-16 boy’s Rainbow state open badminton singles title clash by riding over an upset, thrashing top seed Neeraj Mahajan of Pune 22-20, 24-22 in a pulsating encounter at WIE Sports Complex here on Tuesday.

Pune lads also were not far behind and proved their mettle by pulling off their title victories in style in U-13 and U-16 boy’s singles event. While Sudhanshu Medsikar prevailed over giant killer Shushruth Karmarkar of Mumbai suburb 21-14, 21-17, Kunal Bhide raced away to a 21-13, 21-17 verdict over compatriot Siddhant Ghorpade.

Siddhant Ghorpade, however, had a ball with his double partner Varun Gujar, smashing out Virkar Kaustubh-Jatin Verma combo 21-14, 18-21, 21-17 in U-19 boy’s doubles final.

Both Sarang and Neeraj were on song in a nerve-tickling final. Spectators were seated on their edges of their seats throughout the match, unsure who would have the last laugh. The match was so fascinating that Sarang came from behind at crucial junctures to snatch victory from Neeraj in dying moments of both the sets.

Nursing an injury at Nanded tourney, Sarang lost to Neeraj in semi-finals there. Here he came out supremely fit, hardly compromising on his speed and shots. He got that right, giving some anxious moments for his rival.

Sarang never looked in a hurry, giving an impression that nothing was happening even though he was trailing 20-19 in the first set. He forced Neeraj to play near the net, feeding him with drops. He smashed to earn vital points when Neeraj tossed up his incisive drops. Sarang unbelievably was a persona of supreme patience. He won the first set 22-20.

Sarang began his second set poorly, trailing 12-18. He sprung back with his precise tosses and drops, breaking Neeraj’s rhythm, making him run all over the court.

Capitalising on Neeraj’s diffidence, Sarang unleashed a range of shots and slices to collect important points. Suddenly he caught up with Neeraj 19-20 down. He, ultimately, won the battle 24-22.

Neeraj, on the other hand, was guilty of faulty service returns on several occasions.

RESULTS: Final: U-16 girl’s singles: Tanvi Lad (Greater Mumbai) bt Gauri Ghate (Greater Mumbai) 22-20, 21-10; U-19 girl’s singles: Arundhati Pantawane (Nagpur) bt Mudra Dhainje (Pune) 21-18, 19-21, 21-12; U-13 boy’s doubles: Ramchandra Shlok-Harsheel Dani bt Shushruth Karmarkar-Sudhanshu Medsikar 21-15, 17-21, 21-13; U-16 girl’s doubles: Sai Purandare-Mugdha Pande bt Minti Kaur-Riya Pillai 21-15, 21-11; U-16 boy’s doubles: Neeraj Mahajan-Debashish Mishra bt Govind Sahasrabudhe-Sarang Lakhani 21-15, 21-12; U-16 girl’s doubles: Shweta Kelkar-Pradnya Gadare bt Vinita Ghate-Gauri Ghate 21-15, 21-11

Mumbai’s Shushruth Karmarkar in final

B D Narayankar

Carving out a sterling performance, fourth seed Shushruth Karmarkar stole the thunder by pulling off a spectacular upset over top seed Ramchandran Shlok in the semi-finals of U-13 Boy’s State Open Badminton Championship at WIE Sports Complex here on Tuesday.

Dishing out a superlative game, Shushruth of Mumbai suburb came up with a fantastic performance by dashing the hopes of his rival Ramchandran of Mumbai suburb and racing away to a 21-15, 21-15 verdict.

Shushruth was a revelation, playing as a possessed man. The fourth seed came up with measured and controlled game. His anticipation was dead perfect throughout the match. His skills of countering Ramchandran’s attack were inimitable.

What really snatched victory from Ramchandran were Shushruth’s finishing strokes. They had sting in them that jolted his rival’s confidence, who conceded vital points in crucial junctures of the match.

Another special thing about Shushruth was that he showed patience by dexterously playing a waiting game and mixing it well to launch an attack. Everytime Ramchandran tried to up the ante, Shushruth was equal to it. Most of the time, he won the battle on that count.

At times, Ramchandran showed the glimpse of his class when he tried blocking a flurry of attacking smashes. Everytime an exasperated Ramchandran tried to wriggle his way out of the trouble, he succeeded at a very few occasions.

The top seed found it difficult to break Shushruth’s rhythm. He failed to loosen Ramchandran’s grip. With his confidence dipping, he conceded points in a heap.

Shushruth did not take much time to provide the finishing touches and ended Ramchandra’s resistance much earlier than anticipated.

Like Shushruth, second seed Sudhanshu Medsikar (Pune) had a point to prove. He eased out third seed Harsheel Dani of Mumbai suburb 21-16, 20-22, 21-15 in the U-13 boy’s singles semi-finals.

RESULTS: Semi-finals: U-13 boy’s singles: Shushruth Karmarkar (Mumbai suburb) bt Ramchandran Shlok (Mumbai suburb) 21-15, 21-15; Sudhanshu Medsikar (Pune) bt Harsheel Dani (Mumbai suburb) 21-16, 20-22, 21-15; U-16 girl’s singles: Gauri Ghate (Greater Mumbai) bt Sai Purandare (Pune) 21-19, 21-16, 21-15; Tanvi Lad (Greater Mumbai) bt Mugdha Pande (Mumbai suburb) 21-6, 21-11.

MBA to rope in corporate companies

B D Narayankar

Taking stock of the situation, Maharashtra Badminton Association (MBA) have resolved to take some vital steps to popularize badminton in the state.

Among the important decisions taken by MBA during their executive committee meeting held at WIE Sports Complex here on Sunday are: felicitation of sub-junior and junior players, past and present office-bearers; holding inter-office tournament for corporates and activating district associations.

Players such as Parin Chopda, Prajakta Sawant, Aditi Mulatkar, Arundhati Pantawan, Jai Ageskar, Shweta Kelkar and Pradnya Kelkar would be felicitated on the occasion. MBA President Pradeep Gandhe following the executive committee meeting on Sunday told this to mediapersons. They would be felicitated on the last day of state open badminton championship on Wednesday, he added.

Gandhe announced that the MBA would felicitate past and present office-bearers for their yeomen service in promoting the sport in Maharashtra. The office-bearers are Avinash Wardekar, Suresh Phalnikar, Nandu Natekar, V H Patil and Dinkar Telang. Telang had recently bagged Shiv Chhattrapati Award.

Gandhe also announced the results of candidates appearing for umpires’ examination held at Thane last year. Candidates passing in state umpires test are Sameer Patankar and Anand Chitale (both Mumbai suburb), Shubhangi Joshi (Aurangabad), Satyajit Deshpande (Greater Mumbai), Subodh Pethe and Suhas Naik (both Pune) and Vivek Khubha (Latur).

The district umpires are Naresh Gudale (Satara), Deepak Naidu (Thane), Tejas Bhave (Mumbai suburb) and Nilesh Phansalkar (Satara).

In order to encourage greater patronization from corporates to promote badminton, Gandhe said MBA would organize inter-office tournaments for corporates in November. MBA plans to activate various district associations in the state, he added.

Announcing the dates of nationals, Gandhe said the sub-junior’s event would take place from October 10 to 16 at Dehradun, junior’s from December 23 to 31 at Nellore and senior’s from February 10 to 18.

Sunday, 26 August, 2007

Kunal Bhide guides Pune to team title

Photo: Shashank Sane

Sumukh Chavan in action

B D Narayankar

If you saw an elegant Kunal Bhide gliding around courts, you would not believe he had actually toppled top seed Amit Kshtriya to guide Pune to lift the U-19 boy’s state badminton team title, defeating Mumbai suburb 2-1, at WIE Sports Complex here on Saturday.

The second seed Kunal was excellent, uncorking an array of controlled shots to defeat Amit 18-21, 21-19, 21-15 in the decider. Before this, Pune and Mumbai suburb were deadlocked at 1-1.

After dropping the first set 18-21, Kunal came back strongly to clinch the second 21-19. In the final set, Kunal was too good for Amit. He took the game away from the top seed in a jiffy, defeating him 21-15.

Earlier, fifth seed Nihar Tilekar gave a rousing start for Pune by defeating unseeded Purav Satyamurthy 21-17, 21-13.

The good start given by Nihar, however, was wasted by Pune combo Siddhant Ghorpade and Varun Gujar. They lost the doubles to Mumbai suburb’s Purav Satyamurthy and Parin Chopda 19-21, 18-21.

Earlier, the spectators had a rare glimpse of badminton limelight when Pune’s U-19 girl’s team bagged the title easing out Thane 2-0.

In the singles final, Thane had looked like pulling off the first set when Saili Rane required just two points, but second seed Mudra Dhaimje of Pune fought back to win 21-19.

The second set was quite an easy task for Mudra, though Dhaimje gave some initial hiccups. She won 21-14.

In the doubles final, Pune doubles team Pradnya Gadre and Shweta Kelkar prevailed over Thane combo Saili Rane and Ankita Malgaonkar 21-11, 21-12.

RESULTS: U-19 boy’s team final: Pune bt Mumbai suburb 2-1: Singles: Nihar Tilekar (Pune) bt Purav Satyamurthy (Mumbai suburb) 21-17, 21-13; Kunal Bhide (Pune) bt Amit Kshtriya (Mumbai suburb) 18-21, 21-19, 21-15; Doubles: Parin Chopda-Amit Kshtriya (Mumbai suburb) bt Siddhant Ghorpade-Varun Gujar (Pune) 21-19, 21-18; U-19 girl’s team final: Pune bt Thane 2-0: Singles: Mudra Dhaimje (Pune) bt Saili Rane 21-19, 21-14; Doubles: Pradnya Gadre-Shweta Kelkar (Pune) bt Saili Rane-Ankita Malgaonkar 21-11, 21-12.

Saturday, 25 August, 2007

Pune win U-16 girl’s team title

B D Narayankar

Pune registered a win over Mumbai suburb 2-1 in the U-16 state badminton girl’s team event final at WIE Sports Complex here on Friday.

Pune was lucky to lift the title as Sai Purandare got a bye in the decider from Thane player Minti Kaur could not report for the match due to injury. At that stage, both the teams were locked at 1-1.

Pune’s Sanyogita Ghorpade lost to Thane’s Saili Rane 21-17, 17-21, 21-14 in the first match of the team event. Sanyogita Ghorpade and Sai Purandare combo against Saili Rane and Minti Kaur in the doubles final, however, won the next encounter.

However, Pune lost to Mumbai suburb in U-16 boy’s team event 2-1. Debashis Mishra beat Varun Sarode 21-18, 21-13 to give an opportunity for Mumbai suburb to lift the team championship.

Neeraj Mahajan gave a resounding start to Pune in the U-16 team event final beating Sushruth Karmadkar 21-8, 21-16. The tussle between the two kept spectators fixed to their seats till the end of the match.

Neeraj was in a tearing hurry, giving an impression that he was committed to some other important chore than wielding a racquet in the first game.

The ever-agile Neeraj played with honour and dignity for the district and played to the demands of his teammates who were expecting him to give a positive start by winning the first match. Precise with his tosses and drops, he foiled all designs of Sushruth Karmadkar by making him run all over the court.

Neeraj was quick to realise that Shushruth was moving slowly on both sides of the court. Capitalising on it, he offered a flurry of smashes and slices to collect important points.

What was exciting about Neeraj was that he never gave an impression that he was finding his opponent easy to beat. Nor was he predictable as he was teasing and tormenting his opponent with frustration-creeping drops, while at other times he engaged him in long rallies, which was discomforting.

Sushruth, on the other hand, was guilty of faulty service returns on quite a few occasions.

After winning the first game 21-8, the second was not a cakewalk for Neeraj. Sushruth bounced back with a vengeance. Trailing 9-13 midway, Sushruth tied up with Neeraj 16-16. He, however, could not maintain the resistance.

Neeraj just run away with the game thereafter maintaining a tight noose over Sushruth racing out to a 21-16 win and thereby winning the encounter.

The party of Pune was spoiled by a lackluster performance by doubles’ combo Neeraj Mahajan and Ishan Talwalkar, losing to rivals Deep Chitale and Debashis Mishra 19-21, 21-15, 21-15.

RESULTS: U-16 girl’s team event final: Pune bt Thane 2-1: Singles: Saili Rane (Mumbai) bt Sanyogita Ghorpade (Pune) 21-16, 21-17, 21-14; Sai Purandare (Pune) bt Minti Kaur (Mumbai) (bye); Doubles: Sanyogita Purandare-Sai Purandare (Pune) bt Saili Rane-Minti Kaur (Mumbai) 21-13, 21-16; U-16 boy’s team event final: Mumbai suburb bt Pune 2-1: Singles: Neeraj Mahajan (Pune) bt Sushruth Karmadkar (Mumbai suburb) 21-8, 21-16; Debasish Mishra (Mumbai) bt Varun Sarode (Pune) 21-18, 21-13; Doubles: Deep Chitale-Debashis Mishra (Mumbai suburb) bt Neeraj Mahajan-Ishan Talwalkar (Pune) 19-21, 21-15, 21-15.

Pune in doubles semi-finals

Photo: Mukund Bhute
Sidesh Aroskar in action
B D Narayankar

District lads Varun Gujar and Siddhant Ghorpade’s combo kept their Ahmednagar rivals Shubhankar Khandelwal and Abhishek Kulkarni on a tight leash with some exquisite strokes and steep smashes to pull off an easy victory 21-7, 21-9 in the quarter-finals of the State Open Doubles Badminton Championship at WIE Sports Complex here on Thursday.

The city lads were too hot for Ahmednagar combo which lacked the strength and determination to turn the tables against their senior and experienced opponents. Shubhankar and Abhishek struggled to assert themselves against Varun and Siddhant’s variations in pace and length.

The first game was an easy affair. Varun and Siddhant took the game away in middle stages. The combo kept on the pressure and unleashed some thundering shots across the court. Soon they were in sight of a victory and won the first game 21-7.

Varun and Siddhant combo tore apart their rivals to shreds, beginning the second game in rollicking style. They dictated the game with their attacking shots, mixed with intelligent drops at occasions. They also smothered Shubhankar and Abhishek’s serves with elan.

Soon Varun and Siddhant slammed their way to match point in great style, winning the game 21-9.

After the win, Varun and Siddhant told they had a good game so far in the tournament. “We, however, are concentrating on the semi-finals tomorrow. We hope to win it,” they added.

RESULTS: Doubles team event: Quarter-finals: Varun Gujar-Siddhant Ghorpade (Pune) bt Shubhankar Khandelwal-Abhishek Kulkarni 21-7, 21-9.

Saint Vincent’s lift U-14 Bishop’s title

Photo: Mukund Bhute

St Vincent's Moiz Bandookwala (left) in action

B D Narayankar

Perhaps an attacking 4-1-4-1 pattern weaved by Bishop’s (Camp) in the second half cost them the U-14 Bishop’s Invitational Football Tournament final, losing to St Vincent’s 2-1 at Jeejeebhoy Ground here on Wednesday.

Perhaps Bishop’s would have hung a cheerful face if they had employed the first-half pattern of 4-4-2 as they hardly gave any chance to Vincent’s to break into their citadel. The four midfielders were choking up their key players -- Samarth Salvi and Dwayne Periera.

In the absence of any resistance coming from the Bishop’s wingers in the second half, Samarth Salvi, Dwayne Pereira and Yashraj Sawase got some room to devise attacking moves from both flanks and net two goals.

The Bishop’s dominated the first half breaking in twice through their big guns – Keegan Bast and Arthur Vieyra. Keegan, however, disappointed the home crowd, who were right behind him throughout the match, missing a couple of sitters.

The Vincent’s also were not far behind. They had a couple of wonderful moves through Dwayne Pereira, Yashraj Sawase and Moiz Bandookwala, but could not convert them into goals.

Deadlocked at nil-nil in first half, Faiz Sayyed made the first breakthrough for Vincent’s scoring in 36th minute with a powerful curving shot through a 50-yard spot kick that beat Bishop’s goalkeeper Jerry Murphy.

Yashraj Sawase made it 2-0 in 38th minute after firing in a delightful left-footed kick into the net on receiving a floater from Dwayne Pereira from the right flank.

A minute later, Bishop’s jumped into the ring by earning a spot kick inside the box. Keegan Bast romped home the goal wide of goalkeeper Ajinkiya Sarnobal on a deflection from a Vincent’s defender, who tried blocking an incisive kick by Arthur Vieyra.

The Vincent’s slowed down their game just ten minutes away from the final whistle making life difficult for Bishop’s to raise their visions of a comeback. Perhaps it was not the day for Keegan who missed the best chance to equalize when he shot the ball towering over the crossbar in 55th minute.

Earlier in U-12 summit clash, Nandkumar Angirwal-coached JN Petit beat Vidya Bhavan 3-1 in the tie-breaker after both the teams could not score any goals in regulation time. Hemant Mali, Raj Patil and Nitesh Mutreja converted the penalties for Petit and Angad Gill for Vidya Bhavan.

RESULTS: U-14: Final: St Vincent’s 2 (Yashraj Sawase, Faiz Bandookwala) bt Bishop’s (Camp) 1 (Keegan Bast); U-12: Final: JN Petit 3 (Hemant Mali, Raj Patil, Nitesh Mutreja) bt Vidya Bhavan 1 (Angad Gill).

Shubhankar, Devika bag titles

PUNE'S Shubhankar Renavikar proved his supremacy by winning his fourth consecutive table tennis title this year at Dombivali Gymkhana in Mumbai. He defeated Thane’s Yash Nerurkar 11-4, 11-5, 12-10 in the final of cadet boy’s singles. He improved his position in the sub-junior boy’s category by pushing himself into the state’s top five bracket. Another city player, Devika Bhide won her second state title in cadet girl’s singles category defeating Thane’s Shirin Inamdar 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8. Both the players have already won all the district-ranking tournaments.

Big (Kee) gan takes Bishop’s into final

B D Narayankar

Deadly Keegan Bast scored all four goals in first half of the match to fashion Bishop’s 4-1 win over Vidya Bhavan in the semi-finals of U-14 Bishop’s Invitational Football Tournament at Jeejeebhoy Ground here on Tuesday.

Having not played Vidya Bhavan before, Bishop’s weaved a defensive 3-1-3-3 pattern in initial stages. They changed the gear in third minute after studying their rival’s meek defence. They fielded 4-1-3-3 pattern for rest of the match with great aplomb.

An out-of-sorts display by Vidya Bhavan defenders allowed Bishop’s to dominate and devise explosive attacks from Arthur Vieyra and Keegan Bast that sent a half-full ground into a tizzy.

The Blues puffed up the net for the first time in 4th minute when Keegan put them ahead with a delectable tap to the left side of goalkeeper Jatin Chavan after he grabbed the ball on a missed clearance from a Vidya Bhavan defender. But for a wonderful save from Jatin, Keegan would have made it 2-0 in 13th minute.

He, however, broke Vidya Bhavan’s resolve for the second time in 15th minute when he drove a shot into the net after skillfully dodging three rival defenders.

He added a third (hat-trick), a minute after when he ran into the box on a delightful through from Arthur Vieyra before deflecting the ball past keeper Jatin.

In 26th minute, Vidya Bhavan had their best chance to reduce the margin. Nishit Hegde failed to latch on to Allan Coutinho’s aerial shot from the right flank.

Keegan slotted home for the fourth time for Bishop’s in 29th minute after stealing the ball from Vidya Bhavan defenders.

Leading 4-0 in the first half, Bishop’s casual approach saw them not scoring a single goal in the second half. Though they had chances here and there, they failed to set up a score. Smelling an opportunity, Vidya Bhavan galvanised themselves and powered in their first and the only goal in 36th minute through Nikhil Verghese’s header.

In yet another semi-finals, St Vincent’s crushed JN Petit 2-0. Samarth Salvi and Yashraj Savase fired first and second goals in 9th and 14th minute of the match respectively.

In U-12 semi-final matches, Vidya Bhavan trounced SSPMS 3-1 and JN Petit beat ENNS (B) 2-0.

RESULTS: U-14: Semi-finals: Bishop’s (Camp) 4 (Keegan Bast) bt Vidya Bhavan 1 (Nikhil Verghese); St Vincent’s 2 (Samarth Salvi, Yashraj Savase) bt JN Petil 0; U-12: Semi-finals: Vidya Bhavan 3 (Angad Gill, Jordan Fernandes, Satyajit Saste) bt SSPMS 1 (Mahesh Gaikwad); JN Petit 2 (Ibrahim Shaikh, Kaizad Pilchar) bt ENNS (B) 0.

Photo: Keegan chests the ball to break into Vidya Bhavan citadel. (Mukund Bhute)

Tuesday, 21 August, 2007

Blues scrape past Yellows, enter semis

Photo: Mukund Bhute
A Vidya Bhavan player (left) tries intercepting ENNS player's attack
B D Narayankar

PUNE: The Blues (Bishop’s, Camp) scripted an exciting 3-2 win over Yellows (Bishop’s, CoEd) in quarter-finals of U-14 Bishop’s Invitational Football Tournament at Bishop’s Grounds here on Monday.

In a see-saw match, centre forward Arthur Vieyra was the star attraction for Blues. He smashed two goals, taking his tally to five in the tournament. In previous encounter against Army Public School, he had scored a hat-trick.

An out-and-out aggressive player, Arthur was the backbone of Blues’ attack. He was all the time available for unleashing an attack inside Yellows’ box after being constantly fed by wingers Vedant Gulati and Keegan Bast.

Right from the start of the whistle, the Blues found their groove and broke into the Yellows’ fort when Keegan Bast chipped the ball in from the right corner that sailed over grazing the crossbar.

Arthur, however, fired the first salvo for Blues in 6th minute. It was an extraordinary spot kick just outside the box. The flight mesmerized goalkeeper Abhishek Upadyha that sailed in bulging the net behind.

Thereafter, the Yellows increased their pace and crafted quite a few moves down both the flanks, but their forwards failed to respond effectively. Amidst this, Soham Kothuriya gave some hope for Yellows. He nearly put in an equiliser in 20th minute when his header was well collected by keeper Jerry Murphy.

A minute later, Soham created a penetrative move and sprinted with the ball to the extreme right and floated in a cross that bloated the net behind keeper Jerry, leveling the score 1-1.

In a counter-attack, the Blues fancied their chance of going ahead through Keegan and Arthur combo. Keeper Upadhya, however, spoiled their party after blocking Arthur’s kick.

In 24th minute, the Blues were lucky to get a spot kick just inside the Yellows’ box after defender Nikhil Srinivasan was faulted. Arthur did not miss the opportunity and crushed the second goal for his team.

Leading 2-1 in the first half, the Blues strung a superb move in 32nd minute through Prateesh Sabde, giving a long aerial pass to Keegan, banging in the third goal for Blues.

After several fruitless attacks by Yellows, they struck in 45th minute through Jonathan Young converting a penalty kick after Anshul Sharma was faulted for handling.

The Yellows struggled to string together any decent attacking move in dying minutes. They looked down-and-out with a formidable citadel of Blues.

RESULT: U-14: Quarter-finals: Vidya Bhavan 2 (Sanket, Allan) bt ENNS (B) 1 (Rohit); U-12: ENNS (B) 1 (Abhijit) bt Bishop’s, Camp 0; JN Petit 3 (Ibrahim) bt Angels, Loni 1 (Shaikh Mukhir)

Delayed Anthony memorial from Aug 24

B D Narayankar

PUNE: Even as Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has kept its decision to permit Maharashtra Hockey Association (MHA) to conduct U-16 MA Anthony Memorial Hockey Tournament in abeyance, the premier state body is optimistic of holding the tournament at Polygrass Stadium from August 24.

The tournament was scheduled for August 17, but could not kick off as PCMC denied permission on the pretext of dusting off the polygrass turf as sand had settled on it. They were wary of players sustaining serious injuries while playing on the muddy turf. "Safety of the players was paramount in our deliberations,” Rajesh Pillai, a PCMC sports committee member told the Herald.

Delay in holding the event was causing worries for MHA to select state team for the forthcoming national sub-junior hockey tournament at Bhopal from September 11.

Ruing over PCMC’s decision, MHA’s Ikram Khan said the delay in holding the tournament had played havoc with MHA. They are in a fix as they are unable to conduct selection trials for the national tournament. “Even if the tournament kick-starts on August 24, selections will be completed by September 2. “We will then have only six days to train our boys. That’s too less a time,” he added.MHA also contested PCMC’s concern since polygrass was the only turf on which hockey could be played in rainy seasons. “It’s impossible to play on muddy fields,” MHA secretary Ikram Khan said.

Players too were disappointed with clouds looming large over the tournament until recently. They were let down as most of them were hoping to put up a good show to get into the state squad and spend 15 days in the training camp. “But with the delay, we will hardly get eight days for training,” Rovers Academy captain Sachin Kamble said.

Commandos reach the final hurdle

B D Narayankar

The Commandos were confronted by rather un-impressive Warriors in the ‘B’ Division Independence Cup semi-finals played at Ammunition Factory Ground here on Friday. The Red Devils registered a thumping victory 2-1.

It was not difficult for Commandos to find their grip early on as they fielded their awesome foursome strikers –Wilson Anthony, Vicky Ingle, Vijay Pawar and Shivaji Kadam.

Commandos’ midfielder Lokeshwar Chinkaru, however, was the player to watch as he stole the show with his wonderful moves down the right flank in both the half. His best chance was in the second minute of the match as he set up a beautiful attack dodging three Warrior defenders, forcing a stinging shot down the right corner that grazed the crossbar for a free kick after beating Warrior goalkeeper.

The Warriors were constantly under pressure once the awesome foursome strung their attack together. Vicky Ingle succeeded in finding the back of the net in 7th minute of the match. In 18th minute, Commandos blotted their winning plans for a while with a self-goal executed by Vijay Raghi when he powered in the ball past diving goalkeeper Adil Kauchali in an attempt to defend the cage.

The goal did not sap Commandos’ confidence. They stayed on course with an improved show. Wilson Anthony bloated the net by curling in the ball on Rohitesh Kangle’s pass from left flank just three minutes away from the lemon break.

With a 2-1 lead, Commandos dominated the entire second half and did well to drill holes into the Warriors’ defense, but failed to convert some lollies. In the closing stages, Lokeshwar Cinkaru and Shivaji Kadam blew away two chances.

RESULTS: Commandos 2 (Vicky Ingle, Wilson Anthony) bt Warriors 1 (Vijay Raghi, self-goal)

Double whammy for Ashlesha, Biniwale

Photo: Anand Chaini

Double crown winners Ashlesha Bodas (left) and Martand Biniwale pose for photograph

B D Narayankar

Coming up with sterling performances, top seed Aslesha Bodas overwhelmed third seed Ruhi Sidhaye and second seed Deepti Chaphekar in the finals of Le Meridien Women’s and U-20 Girl’s Singles Table Tennis Championships here on Tuesday.

Exceeding all expectations, Aslesha came up with ‘heavyweight’ performance and raced away to a 11-5, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 verdict over her rival Ruhi in the women’s segment. In the U-20 girl’s event, she mercilessly dashed the hopes of Deepti Chaphekar 11-3, 13-11, 11-5, and 11-6.

Like Aslesha, it was also time for Martand Biniwale to prove a point. He also bagged double crown this evening. The top seed, Martand outplayed Aamish Karamchandani 12-10, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7 to capture U-20 boy’s title and Vivek Kolte 11-3, 11-5, 11-7, and 11-9 to claim the men’s singles title.

Though the top seeds emerged victorious, the singles finals failed to provide excitement usually associated with title-clashes.

Aslesha was a revelation indeed, especially in women’s final. The top seed came with delightful exhibition. Her anticipation stood right throughout the match. Her defense was effective everytime Ruhi grew aggressive.

What really snatched victory from Juhi were Aslesha’s finishing strokes. They had venom and stinging enough to win vital points in crucial junctures of the match.

Aslesha showed that sometimes playing a waiting game and mixing it well with attacking finishes could be deadly. Everytime Ruhi tried to up the ante, Aslesha was equal to it. Most of the time, she won the battle on that count.

Sometimes, Ruhi was even better everytime she tried to block when Aslesha went for the kill. An exasperated Ruhi tried to hit her way out of trouble but succeeded at few occasions. “Ruhi is a fine blocker than an aggressor,” Aslesha told Herald after the match.

Ruhi found it difficult to break Aslesha’s rhythm. She failed to loosen Aslesha’s grip. With her confidence dipping, she conceded points in a heap.

Aslesha did not take much time to provide the finishing touches and ended Juhi’s resistance much earlier than anticipated.

RESULTS: Women’s singles final: Aslesha Bodas bt Ruhi Sidhaye 11-5, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7; U-20 Girl’s singles final: Ahlesha Bodas bt Deepti Chaphekar 11-3, 13-11, 11-5, 11-6; U-20 Boy’s singles final: Martand Biniwale bt Aamish Karamchandani 12-10, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7; Men’s singles final: Martand Biniwale bt Vivek Kolte 11-3, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9

Sayali bags third title of the year

B D Narayankar

Sayali Despande, as usual, began her campaign with a predictable 11-7, 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-2 win over Sruja Bhat in the final of the U-17 Girl’s Le Meridian Table Tennis Championship here on Monday.

Hardly giving any chance for her opponent, Sayali dictated terms mauling Sruja 11-7, 11-5 and 11-9 in first three games. Giving a tough fight, Sruja raised her vision of a comeback and smashed her way to a glorious 11-7 victory in the fourth game of the match.

Thereafter it was Sayali, who came off the blocks, playing elegant strokes in the fifth and deciding game, before clinching the title.

Continuing with her devastating form from where she had left last year winning three titles and two titles this year, Sayali wormed her way up into the title clash by defeating Gautami Bendre in pre-quarterfinals, Shrungeri Pavale in quarters and Sai Bakare in semi-finals. “Of all the matches I played in this tournament, Sruja was the toughest competitor,” Sayali told Herald after the match. Asked for the reason, she replied: “Because she was the only opponent to whom I conceded a game. I won all my previous matches in straight games.”

If Sruja smashed a booming smash, Sayali was in position to effortlessly send back the return often catching Sruja on the wrong-foot. She, however, began her second game cautiously, focusing more on pushing game. But whenever she found an opportunity to smash, she did it gracefully, winning vital points.

Sayali streaked to win the second game 11-5 and then rubbed it in, winning the third at 11-9. Sayali’s confidence was severely dented when Sruja won the fourth game at 11-7. Retaining her poise, Sayali made a fantastic recovery to win the fifth and deciding game, conceding just two points to Sruja.

It was a shattering blow to Sruja as she was in tears before leaving Deccan Gymhana TT Hall.

RESULTS: U-17 Girl’s Singles: Sayli Deshpande bt Sruja Bhat 11-7, 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-2

Shiv Chhatrapati award for nine city sportspersons

B D Narayankar

After a delay of two-and-half months, the state government announced the list of Shiv Chhatrapati sports award for 2005-2006. Of the 37 sportspersons from Maharashtra, nine from the city have been selected for Shiv Chhatrapati awards here on Saturday.

Nine sportspersons from city are Sumant Dattaraya Vaikar (sports organiser), Manisha Sudhir Ghate (sports organiser), Vrushali Vishnu Gaikwad (cycling), Krutika Nadig (chess) Sumati Ramanna Pujari (kabbadi), Amruta Subhash Parashar (rowing), Aarti Bajrang Ghorpade (water sports), Asmita Raju Karnik (waterpolo) and Aditya Santosh Raut (water sports)

Speaking to mediapersons, Maharashtra sports director Laxmikant Deshmukh said, for the first time in Maharashtra history, the state government had bestowed Lifetime Achievement and Jijamata Sports awards on sports personalities who had done yeomen’s service to sports.

While Narahari Venkatesh Padsalgikar of Sangli and Joginder Singh Bedi of Nagpur would be honoured with Lifetime Achievement award, Manisha Sudhir Ghate of Pune would receive Jijamata award for best woman sports organiser, Deshmukh said.

The lifetime awardees would receive Rs 1 lakh cash prize, a shawl and a certificate and sports awardees would get Rs 50,000, a certificate and a shawl, Deshmukh said. “Aditya Raut is the youngest awardee,” he added.

The awards would be distributed at a grand function to be held at Latur, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s constituency, on August 29.

Other awardees are: Ulhas Nandurkar (Yavatmal), Sanjay Bodare (Satara), Rajalaxmi Shaubhavat (Mumbai), Sanjay Kadu (Raigad), Narayan Shankar Khadke (Jalgaon), Sambhaji Patil (Kolhapur), Jagadish Vairagade (Nagpur), Ramesh Varati (Yavatmal), Puvar Ghate (Nagpur), Sampada Jayant Dhopatkat (Benchpress, Ratnagiri), Rajesh Bhagwan Jadhav (Bodybuilding, Thane), Prasad Gaikwad (Cycling, Satara), Aditya Joshi (Gymnastics, Aurangabad), Sharvari Kulkarni (Gymnastics, Aurangabad), Nirmala Bhoi (Nashik), Lata Panchaal (both Kabbadi, Thane), Sudhir Mhaske (Kho-Kho, Mumbai), Bhagyashree Phadtare (Kho-Kho, Satara), Baalu Rakh (Rowing, Beed), Tejeshwini Sawant (Kolhapur), Aruna Deshmukh (Shootingball, Buldhana), Yogita Valunj (Watersports, Mumbai), Manasi Arun Bhagwat (Table Tennis, Mumbai) and Suman Jagtap (Track and Field, Solapur).

Chetak gallop to glory, lift Vahatuk title

Photo: Mukund Bhute

B D Narayankar

Shreyas Dasgupta’s late goal saw Chetak pull off an exciting victory over City Club in the final of the Vahatuk Football Tournament at Chandrashekhar Agashe Ground here on Saturday.

In a see-saw match, Chetak found their feet in the very first minute and broke through Kabir Mandrekar. The goal was a treat to watch as Kabir darted inside the box and freed his legs beating City Club goalkeeper Kiran Chaudhary after receiving a sparkling chip from Ruturaj Thakkar from the right corner.

In 5th minute, it was Ruturaj Thakkar, who targeted City Club’s net on a free-kick just outside the box. The ball, however, sailed over before brushing the crossbar.

Three minutes later, Ruturaj Thakkar created a penetrative move down the right flank and floated in the ball to Chetak captain Mangesh Shinde, who took an aerial right-footed shot that was nicely blocked by keeper Kiran Chaudhary.

City Club, with their loads of experience, were not far behind to launch an attack. Their forwards probed Chetak’s garrison with sharp moves. In 10th minute they set up an attack from the right flank to Raj More, who tapped the ball in the net, but was offsided.

Seven minutes later, agile Raj More once again gave torrid time to Chetak defenders when he leaped in the air to direct a stinging header to the right of Chetak goalkeeper, who pulled off a magnificent save.

Rohan Bhalekar had the best chance to put Chetak ahead 2-0 in 20th minute when he delayed shooting the ball past the goalkeeper.

Mathew Susainathan, however, did not miss one in 23rd minute. His craftsmanship resulted in him notching up the first goal and the equalizer for City Club.

Locked at 1-1 at lemon break, City Club struggled to string together any decent attacking move in the second half. They looked down-and-out with Chetak forwards going hammer and tongs against them.

After a flurry of attacks going waste, Shreyas Dasgupta of Chetak tricked something out of the ordinary thumping a winning goal in 45th minute of the game.

RESULT: Chetak 2 (Kabir Mandrekar, Shreyas Dasgupta) bt City Club 1 (Mathew Susainathan).

Tuesday, 14 August, 2007

Chetak to meet City Club in final

B D Narayankar
PUNE: Holding their nerves in a tense situation, Chetak snatched a victory over much-fancied Fatima XI 4-2 via tie-breaker in the semi-final of the Vahatuk football tournament at Chandrashekhar Agashe Ground here on Friday. Sanu Jacob fired Fatima XI ahead in the 24th minute, but their joy was short-lived when Ruturaj Thakkar posted the equaliser early into the second half to take the game into tie-breaker.Deadlocked 1-1 in regulation time, Chetak made three conversions in the tie-breaker, while Kartik Mandrekar, Kabir Mandrekar and Ruturaj Thakkar struck for Chetak. For Fatima, Viren D’Souza was the only player to convert his spot kick, while three of their star players - Vijayan Arland, Xavier Bernard and Shahid Khan missed their penalties. Chetak goalkeeper Abhijeet Javkhedkar was undoubtedly the hero in the shootout, pulling off two diving saves at both sides of the post. Earlier, Fatima made a promising beginning essaying their first move down the left flank when Viren D’Souza dribbled past the Chetak medios and took a shot at Chetak’s net in the 7th minute. Kabir Mandrekar intercepted the shot and cleared the ball out for a free kick. Richard Zuzart, once again, weaved an incisive move, dodged a couple of defenders and rifled in a shot from a tight angle that was well blocked by Chetak goalkeeper Abhijeet Javkhedkar in the 8th minute. Chetak strikers - Aditya Bhaskaran and Manvendra Mishra devised a lethal move opening up the Fatima citadel in the 20th minute. However, it was Fatima who fired the first salvo when Sanu Jacob tapped the ball in after Viren D’Souza had set up a brilliant opportunity from the left corner of the box. Fatima led 1-0 at half-time. Chetak attacked with more purpose in the second session. Their forwardline used the right flank on a consistent basis. The sustained Chetak pressure cracked the Fatima defence when Ruturaj Thakkar restored parity. He made the most of a Manvendra Mishra centre that deflected off the goalpost in the 40th minute and caught Fatima’s defence napping. Chetak muffed up a good chance to go ahead 2-1 in the 52nd minute when Aditya Bhaskaran sprinted down the right and nudged the ball to Manvendra Mishra, whose backheel went out tantalisingly close to the Fatima goal. Fatima will now meet City Club in the final. City Club pulled through after pipping Thunder Catz 1-0 in the semi-finals. Prince Ghoswal scripted a last-gasp goal for City Club.
RESULTS: Chetak 4 (1) (Ruturaj Thakkar 2, Kartik Mandrekar, Kabir Mandrekar) bt Fatima 2 (1) (Sanu Jacob, Vijayan Arland); City Club 1 (Prince Ghoswal) bt Thunder Catz 0.

Friday, 10 August, 2007

Chetak gallop into Vahatuk semi-finals

B D Narayankar

PUNE: Before pulling off an exciting victory, Chetak ‘A’ had to sweat it out against a redoubtable Sangam Young Boys before getting the better of them 2-1 to gallop into the semi-finals of the Vahatuk football tournament at Chandrashekhar Agashe Ground here on Thursday.

Chetak will now meet Fatima XI in the semi-finals. Fatima XI are in the middle of a good run in the tournament with the likes of Viren D’Souza, Vijayan Arland and Sanu Jacob showing good form and scoring for their team at regular intervals.

Conscious of a semi-final match against Fatima, Chetaks put a cap on their emotions to celebrate their victory over Sangam Boys. But when they took the field today, they were a confident-looking bunch, ready to play their hearts out to book a semi-final berth.

Lack of craftsmanship from Sangam Boys gave enough room for Chetak to seize control over the match. Chetak chalked up a couple of explosive attacks from both flanks inside ten minutes from the start. The shots were well saved by Sangam goalkeeper Rajesh Pardeshi, who did well to collect the ball at knee-height.

The first one came from Rohan Belvelkar in the 8th minute off a pass from Kartik Mandrekar. Rohan tried to slide the ball to the right of the keeper, but failed to beat Pardeshi, who anticipated the shot beautifully before palming off the ball for a corner. Chetak forwards took advantage of Sangam’s meek defence.

Sangam were guilty of allowing too many open spaces for their opposition to manoeuvre. It was in the dying stages of the first half that medio Ruturaj Thakkar floated an exquisite chip from the right flank to Aditya Bhaskaran, who smacked the ball into Sangam Boys’ net, giving them a handy 1-0 lead for Chetaks.

After the lemon break, the Chetaks strode out confidently, but took time to get off their blocks. It was in the 36th minute that they got into their groove with captain Mangesh Shinde attempting to find the back of Sangam’s net just outside the box.

This shot served to put Chetak in the right frame of mind to hold sway over their rivals. Their prying moves finally bore fruit in the 37th minute when Manvendra Mishra slipped through the Sangam citadel after dodging past three defenders and slamming the ball past goalkeeper Pardeshi.

Though the goal underlined the supremacy of Chetaks, Sangam Boys did well not to lose heart and fought their way up till the dying minutes of the game. This zeal, in fact, brought some cheers onto their face when Raju Nikam nodded home a superb header past the Chetak goalkeeper in the 39th minute.

The goal, however, was not enough for Sangam Boys to remain in the tournament. It only served as a consolation for them.

RESULTS: Chetak 2 (Aditya Bhaskaran, Manvendra Mishra) bt Sangam Young Boys 1 (Raju Nikam)

Thursday, 9 August, 2007

Fatima tame city cops, enter semi-finals

B D Narayankar

PUNE: For the first time, Fatima XI felt the heat of facing a formidable defence. And after failing to breach the Poona City Police citadel for close to 54 minutes, Fatima finally broke through to boot home two goals in quick succession to storm into the semi-finals of the Vahatuk football tournament at Chandrashekhar Agashe Ground here on Wednesday. Playing in soggy and slushy conditions due to overnight downpour, Fatima took their time to size things up. Their middle third struggled to function as an unit and whenever Fatima strikers - Richard Zuzart, Vijayan Arland and Viren D’Souza darted inside the box, Poona Police defenders smothered their attack with their robust ball play. Poona City Cops essayed some nice moves from both the flanks, but poor anticipation of their forwards cost them dearly. Striker Richard Flence cut a sorry figure with his bungling ways. He failed to put the ball past Fatima goalkeeper Rozario Tupsuandarya in the 7th, 12th and 13th minutes of the match. Seeing him struggle, the Police team management pushed him back and operated him in the midfield. The cops got their best chance to move ahead in the 21st minute when medio Nagesh Kamble charted a move from the left flank, floated the ball to centre forward Raju Kadam, whose shot shook the frame before sailing wide for a free kick.The cops missed yet another chance in the 27th minute through Javed Pathan, who made a run into the Fatima territory, but failed to net the first goal for Poona Police. Fatima, which seemingly played a drab game unti then, injected life into the match with Godfrey feeding Richard Zuzart, who floundered by banging the shot straight into the throat of the Poona Police goalkeeper.The second half, however, totally belonged to Fatima. They showed supremacy in dribbling, passing and sliding shots. After failing to find the target with their earlier efforts, Richard Zuzart brought his benchmates to their feet in the 54th minute with a cracking header after receiving a chip from Vijayan Arland that found the back of the Poona Police net.Five minutes later, Vijayan Arland once again floated the ball into the police box, but this burly centre forward Sanu Jacob was there to bulge the net for the second time for Fatima and with it negated all cops' hopes of mounting a late fightback.

Thunderous win for Thundercatz

B D Narayankar
PUNE: Undeterred by the prospect of taking on a star-studded side like Shivajians, Thundercatz dished out some clinical football fashioning a thrilling 4-0 victory in the Vahatuk football tournament at Chandrashekhar Agashe Ground here on Tuesday. The craft of the Shivajians allowed them to seize the early control in the first 18 minutes of play, but thereafter Thundercatz’ explosive counter-attacks regaled the sparse spectators, who braved the inclement weather to watch the exciting match.Thundercatz played to a plan. Their backline hardly gave any open spaces for the Shivajian strikers and their medios, especially Sebi Korudh were ready with their steady supplies to enable Thundercatz find the back of the net at regular intervals. The Thundercatz shot into the lead in the 19th minute when Nikhil John fired a delightful shot after receiving a cross from Sebi Korudh. Six minutes later, Nikhil could have made it 2-0, but his low shot from the top of the box was brilliantly parried by the Shivajian keeper. The opening goal only served to put Thundercatz in the right frame of mind to hold sway over their opponents. The probing moves of the Thundercatz forwards finally fructified towards the closing stages of the first session when Sebi Korudh sprinted inside the box and blasted the ball past the Shivajian keeper. This goal underlined Thundercatz's dominance.After the lemon break, Thundercatz were slow getting off their blocks but once they got into their groove, there was no stopping them. Thundercatz went 3-0 up when Sebi Korudh darted inside the box and dispossessed a couple of defenders and rifled home the third goal for his team. Kumaresh Babu rounded off the tally for Thundercatz when he muscled in the fourth goal in the 48th minute. RESULTS: Thundercatz 4 (Sebi Korudh 2, Kumaresh Babu, Nikhil John) bt Shivajians 0

Tuesday, 7 August, 2007

Fatima muscle KP aside to enter quarters

B D Narayankar

PUNE: Centre forward Sanu Jacob was the penalty shoot-out hero for Fatima XI as they scraped past KP XI 7-5 in the Vahatuk football tournament here on Monday. After a drab show against NDA Youth Club in the tournament opener, Fatima and KP XI were tied at 2-2 in normal time after Viren D’Souza scored in the dying minutes to take the game into a tie-breaker.Then came the real drama as Vijayan Arland, a standby goalkeeper, pulled off a goal, denying KP striker Thomas and offering Sanu Jacob the opportunity to step up and score the winning goal. Fatima forwards - Richard Zuzart and Vijayan Arland launched a barrage of attack on KP citadel. But it was their flank partner Viren D’Souza who had the most telling impact. It was Fatima goalkeeper’s poor display that saw two goals being pumped in by KP in the first two minutes of the match. Thomas gave KP XI the lead in the very first minute of play when he caught Fatima goalkeeper Rozario Tupsuandrya napping with an opportunistic goal. Pavan Gurung struck three minute later to leave the Fatima defence shell-shocked.Just when Fatima’s chips were down, the combo of Richard Zuzart and Viren D’Souza showed impressive speed and strength to create pressure on KP defence. Fatima had a wonderful chance to reduce the margin by one goal when Nelson Gyanprakash fired a fierce shot dwon the left flank, but failed to find the net in the 13th minute of the match. Vijayan Arland muffed up another scoring opportunity as KP keeper Ashish Magar pulled off a fine save in 25th minute. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Fatima’s Steven Zuzart collected a through ball and sprinted near the touchline before chipping a cross that invited Sanu Jacob’s clinical finish; amazingly this goal boosted his morale, until then he appeared totally off-color. Sanu Jacob came into the act again sending a delightful through to left-winger Viren D’Souza, who dodged KP keeper Ashish Magar, flicked the ball to his right and sent in the equaliser.RESULTS: Fatima XI 7 (Sanu Jacob 2, Viren D’Souza 2, Vijayan Arland, Richard Zuzart, Godfery Micheal) bt KP XI 5

Chetak cane Mischiefmakers 2-0

PUNE: Eltin Lima was right on target as he provided the most necessary ammunition for Ventura to make a loud noise in the semi-finals of inter-corporate football mania played here on Saturday.In relatively murkier conditions, Ventura turned on the style, smashing home three goals against AXA, before clinching a resounding victory to lock horns with WNS Entrance in title clash on Sunday.Fielding virtually their key players for the semi-finals, Ventura began their campaign rather sedately; hardly taking any risk to set up an attack for first five minutes of the game.After getting a feel of the wet conditions and opponent’s gameplan, Ventura accelerated their pace and began pounding AXA’s fort. Soon centre forward Eltin Lima brought fans to their feet in 7th minute with a cracking header on Delzad Marzapani’s corner.A minute later, AXA missed a wonderful opportunity of scoring an equalizer when their striker picked hole and sprinted inside the box as Ventura keeper effected a wonderful save.In the same minute, Sri Jagtap set the attack for Ventura from the right flank and lobbed the ball for Eltin Lima, who just had to tap the ball in, but he floundered.Just a minute before the lemon break, Ventura devised a delightful move from the right flank. After dodging a couple of AXA defenders, Sri Jagtap pushed himself hard into AXA’s citadel and thumped a scorching shot to the left of diving AXA keeper. Unfortunately for Ventura, the ball brushed the sidebars before sailing out for a free kick.Eight minutes into the second half, Ventura found themselves 2-0 leading, when Sri Jagtap detonated an explosive lob from the half-line to waiting Eltin Lima who glided the ball at the back of AXA keeper’s net.In 47th minute, Eltin Lima burst into life, first running hard through AXA’s fort, and then setting up an attack for Celestin Fernandes, who smacked the third goal for Ventura.“It was a tremendous victory. We played a very good game. If we continue the good work, we will win the title,” Eltin Lima told Herald after the match.“WNS Entrance is a good team. We have not taken them lightly. We will field our best team for the final and go at them hard,” he added.“We were on song in the first half itself when Eltin scored two goals for us. The second half too was good,” Delzad Marzapani said.In another semi-finals, WNS Entrance defeated Wipro BPO 5-4 in a tiebreak. Both teams were nil-nil at the end of the game. Denzil Fernandes was the villain for Wipro, missing the penalty, while others converted their penalties. Four goals, however, were not enough for Wipro, compared to WNS’ five, to sail into the final.RESULTS: SEMI-FINALS: Ventura 3 (Eltin Lima 2, Celestin Fernandes) bt AXA 0; WNS Etrance 5 (Tony Mehta, Baptist Mendonca, Baptist Lobo, Kenneith Fernandes, Allen Almeida) bt Wipro BPO 4 (Micheal D’Cruz, Habib Shah, Ryan Susai, Sandesh Gadkari)

Fatima XI ease past NDA Youth Club 2-0

B D Narayankar

PUNE: Fatima XI provided the expectant crowd at Chandrashekhar Agashe ground plenty to cheer about as they eased past National Defence Academy (NDA) Youth Club by a brace in the inaugural match of the Vahatuk football tournament here on Friday. Playing in wet and sticky conditions, the white devils (Fatima) began their game at a leisurely pace. They were content to indulge in a sleek passing game in their own backyard. After Viren D’Souza and Sanu Jacob failed to find the target with their early efforts, Vijayan Arland brought the motley fans to their feet in the 15th minute with a cracking header that NDA goalkeeper did well to palm it way.A minute later, NDA had their first good look at the rival goal when their strikers penetrated into the Fatima box before custodian Rozario Tupsoundarya brought off a fantastic save. Almost immediately, Sanu Jacob set up an attacking move for Fatima from the right and chipped a perfect ball for Richard Zuzart to head the ball into the net, but he faltered missing the target by a couple of inches.Just a minute before the lemon break, Fatima created a promising move down the left flank. After dodging past two NDA defenders, Viren D’Souza caved into the box and unleashed a scorching shot to the left of the diving NDA keeper. Unfortunately for Fatima, the ball grazed the side bar for a free kick. Four minutes into the second half, Fatima found themselves 1-0 ahead when Vijayan Arland fired a booming shot from just outside the NDA box that struck the crossbar and the ball ricocheted to Richard Zuzart, who was lurking near the goalmouth. He made no mistake in sending the ball into the net.Fatima consolidated their position when Viren D’Souza scored the second goal in 38th minute to literally take the match away from NDA. The goal came at the end of a nice period of passing play before Viren striker cut in from the right and finished off the move with a crisp, sliding shot from 20 metres.“Today’s game was a good test for us and a good test for NDA. We were looking to assess the early progress of our players. We enjoyed our victory, though,” Richard Zuzart told the Herald after the match. “In the first half, we could not score. We, however, came to grips in the second by scoring two goals. I think we played a fairly good game,” he said with a glint of joy on his face.“We tried looking if the enthusiasm was still there, and we think it was there. There is no regression in the side and we are making good progress,” he added.RESULTS: Fatima XI 2 (Richard Zuzart, Viren D’Souza) bt NDA Youth Club 0.

Sudhanshu lifts PDMBA singles title

B D Narayankar

PUNE: The music of celebration rose above the din as top seed Sudhanshu Medsikar defeated Amey Tilloo 21-19, 21-10 in finals of U-13 PDMBA championship on a glorious Thursday evening. As soon as he defeated his rival, Sudhanshu jumped in delight, ran towards his father and melted into his embrace, cherishing every bit of the treasured moment. This was his second title in two years. Just last year, he had carried home the Mahila Mandal District Badminton Championship Cup.It wasn’t all that easy for Sudhanshu, though. He came out of the fire unscathed and fought the battle till the end. First game was a neck-and-neck affair. Sudhanshu took a two-points lead over Amey, for the first time, when the score was 15-13 in his favour.He, however, could not hold on to the lead. Sudhanshu committed errors, giving Amey opportunities to smash across the court. Soon he was trailing 15-18. He ultimately won the first game winning three points by locking Amey with his flurry of chest serves and cross-court smash.Sudhanshu tore apart Amey in the second game, completely dictating play with his intelligent slice drops and smash. The top seed served efficiently, ate up Amey’s attacking serves and won the match when he blitzed a smash across the court. Sudhanshu was ecstatic about his second title win. “Winning finals is always good, especially beating someone you have played before,” he told Herald after the match. “It is definitely one of my top wins. Though Amey is an unseeded player, he is a wonderful player,” he added with a laugh.“I wanted to dictate as I have had trouble with him in today’s first game because he retrieves so well. But, I made sure I was both aggressive and defensive when I got on court,” Sudhanshu said.In U-19 boys’ final, top seed Nihar Tilekar pulled off an impressive win 21-14, 21-16 win over third seed Kunal Bhide in a pulsating encounter. Tilekar came into the finals on the back of successful outings in earlier stages of the tournament.In an hour’s contest where momentum kept swinging back and forth in the first half of the point’s table, both Nihar and Kunal pounded heavy shots from the baseline to make it an exciting match for the sizeable crowd at the WIE Sports Complex.Nihar used his strong tosses to set up winning points and kept Kunal under pressure with his smash.After taking the first game 21-14, Nihar opened the final game by holding serves to take 11-6 lead. Later leading 18-16, after conceding huge points, Nihar got to match point when he slammed a attacking shot for a winner.After the win, Nihar said it was the toughest first-game match that he could get as he had to play against a good player like Kunal. “It’s hard to play the finals. I, however, played well under the circumstances,” Nihar said. “I had wanted to spend the least amount of time possible on the court. But I won the match in the end, and that's the most important thing,” he added.

Monday, 6 August, 2007

Amey, Sudhanshu to clash in final

Photo: Shashank Sane

Sudhanshu Medsikar

B D Narayankar

PUNE: Amey Tilloo, an unseeded player in PDMBA tournament, caused yet another upset trouncing third seed Ajit Kumbhar 21-18 and 21-19 in a nerve-wracking encounter here on Wednesday.

With this win, Amey will take on top seed Sudhanshu Medsikar in the final to be played on Thursday. Sudhanshu beat his rival Viren Deshpande 21-8, 21-9, in another semi-finals, without much resistence.

A tremendous player himself, Amey missed on his ranking, as he failed to participate in the Mahila Mandal District Badminton Tournament held recently.

Known to his mates as a giant killer, Amey had a tough task cut out for him to face the challenge of a top player. Unfortunately, he ran fever last night and was not in his elements at initial stages of the match.

Perhaps, Amey’s performance had something to do with his health as he began his campaign poorly, meekly conceding first five points to Ajit.

He, however, recovered soon barging past Ajit, taking 6-5 lead on his serve. Just when he had the opportunity to further his lead, Amey faulted and lost six vital points to Ajit. These mistakes, however, did not take the toll of Amey’s capabilities. Instead it inspired him to stay focused in the match.

When the score read 11-6 in favour of Ajit, Amey did not let his tempo up and dominated the game, taking three-points lead consistently.

The 21-18 win in the first game should have motivated Amey to play a better game and take an initial lead. In contrast, he conceded 11 points to Ajit. But again he made a magnificent comeback, maintaining three-points lead constantly.

What was striking about Amey was he brought variety into his game. In the first game, he focused on rallies, in the second he played an attacking game once he had tired Ajit.

Meanwhile, top seed Sudhanshu posted a comfortable victory over Viren Deshpande to storm into the final. He played a flawless game much to the delight of his coach Anil Modak, who was egging on his favorite disciple from the sidelines of the court. “Sudhanshu has improved as a player. He has brought variety into his shots. Normally, players in his category do not do that. I am pleased with his performance,” Modak told Herald after the match.

Sudhanshu had a gameplan to mesmerize Viren. He forced Viren into rallies by tossing up the shuttle and then pouncing on it to collect vital points. “At any point of time, I did not feel any competition from Viren,” he added.

RESULTS: U-13 Boys’ Singles: Amey Tilloo bt Ajit Kumbhar 21-18, 21-19; Sudhanshu Medsikar bt Viren Deshpande 21-8, 21-9; U-10 Boys’ Singles: Ataharv Gosavi bt Sahil Lokhande 21-10, 21-14; U-13 Girls Singles: Aishwarya Dobhade bt Natasha Bhagwat 16-21, 21-16, 21-17; Radhika Joshi bt Revathi Devasthali 21-4, 21-18; U-16 Girls’ Singles: Sanyogita Ghorpade bt Rekhi Jyot Kaur 21-16, 21-19; Saee Purandhare bt Kalyani Limaye 21-8, 21-9; U-16 Boys’ Singles: Niraj Mahajan bt Amey Oak 21-12, 21-14; Varun Sarode bt Ashutosh Kale 21-17, 21-8

Wednesday, 1 August, 2007

Amey enters semifinals

Photo: Mukund Bhute
B D Narayankar

PUNE: Perhaps he could have made himself a good alrounder in cricket. He is an amazing character who takes pleasure in doing things, which is not in his strides, professionally. He was officiating as linesmen in one of the matches, which he did it to perfection. But, before that he showed what he is good at, thrashing top players.

Amey Tilloo outplayed second seed Gaurav Joshi 21-18 and 21-6 in a pulsating encounter causing a major upset before entering semifinals of U-13 Boys’ PDMBA tournament here on Tuesday.

In another quarterfinal match, top seed Sudhanshu Medsikar trounced Gajendragadkar Nandan 21-9, 21-11 in straight sets. He now meets Viren Deshpande in the semifinals.

It was not for the first time Amey had been involved in an embittered on-court battle with Gaurav. Last year too, Amey had celebrated a win against the second seed.

However, he did not wallow in this victory. He played as a true professional dumping the exhilarating past before stepping into the battlefield. “Since I have played him last year, I was expecting a tough competition from Gaurav. He also is a top-ranking player in the tournament,” Amey told Maharashtra Herald after the match.

Amey sprang from the depths after conceding an initial lead to Gaurav in a fascinating encounter in the first game. “I lost my track in the initial stages losing five points,” he said.

He got his rhythm back when he started spanking the shuttle across the court with great vigor. Perhaps these shots would have been inspired by a Bollywood flick where the hero swears by his mother to avenge his father’s death.

Soon with the flurry of smashes, drop shots and series of sallies, he took the game away from his opponent in a jiffy that camouflaged the inconsistency of Gaurav. This led to the loser’s downfall as he took the game lightly and allowed the uncanny Amey barge past him.

Soon Amey caught his opponent’s weakness; he started tossing the shuttle to Gaurav’s back, which was troubling him a hell of a lot. “As I was feeding him with tosses, I was delivering a flurry of drop shots, confusing him totally,” Amey said.

Soon Amey was ahead 18-15. Here at this stage did he realise he could win the first game and arrive on the court for the second dig, confidently. Gaurav, however, kept his cool and surprised Amey sending him into a tizzy for a moment after garnering next three points –the scoreline then read 20-18.

Finally, Amey banged one onto the floor forcing Gaurav to reach for the shuttle, who missed it, conceding the game.

Amey had it easy in the second dig when he identified Gaurav panting and running across the court. Hence he employed the theory of tiring him out. Gaurav failed battling his fatigue and committed errors on his serves.

RESULTS: U-13 Boys’ Singles: Amey Tilloo bt Gaurav Joshi 21-18 and 21-6; Sudhanshu Medsikar bt Gajendragadkar Nandan 21-9, 21-11; Niraj Mahasan bt Ishan Talwalkar 21-8, 21-14; Ashustosh Kale bt Nachiket Agashe 16-21, 28-26, 21-12; Varun sarode bt Ameet Kumbhar 22-20, 21-12; U-19 Boys’ Singles: Nihar Tilekar bt Kaustubh Virkar 21-14, 21-16; Siddhant Ghorpade bt Yashodhan Marathe 18-21, 21-14, 21-13; Kunal Bhide bt Pratik Mehta 21-12, 21-18; U-10 Girls’ Singles: Adiuti Kale bt Shruti Gaurav 21-13, 21-8; U-13 Girls’ Singles: Aishwarya Dobhade bt Avani Vora 21-17, 21-6; Natasha Bhagwat bt Kanika Bansal 21-15, 21-19; Revathi Deveshthali bt Himani Mahajan 19-21, 21-12, 21-14

Top seed Sudhanshu breathes fire, steams into quarterfinals

Photo: Mukund Bhute

Amey Oak in action

B D Narayankar

PUNE: He didn’t rejoice, nor jumped in tears. He walked out from court-two with shoulders drooped. For a moment one would imagine he had lost the match. But hold on. He has just done the opposite, breathing fire, he defeated his opponent convincingly in pre-quarter stages of U-13 boys’ singles badminton tournament organized by PDMBA at WIE Sports Complex here on Monday.

Top seed Sudhanshu Medsikar scripted an intelligent victory over Ajinkya Rense walloping him 21-11, 21-10 in straight games.

Just before the start of the match, Medsikar showed immense confidence and self-belief, but when he took charge at court-two, he was a different player – dejected and frustrated for not getting his shots where he wanted to.

Most of his returns were tossed up, making Rense to play drop shots winners in an attempt to bounce back in both the games. “I was not in my elements. I won with a margin of 15 points against an unseeded player. The score of 21-4, 21-2 would have boosted my confidence before moving into the quarterfinals against third seed Ajit Kumbhar tomorrow,” Sudhanshu told Maharashtra Herald after the match.

Notwithstanding his comments on his game today, Sudhanshu played a rather balanced and composed game, unleashing his shots to perfection. Rense was no match to his delectable shots and was found wanting in reaching out to the shuttle.

What was so good about Sudhanshu was his cool temperament. He played the game as though nothing had happened. His slice drops made him look an intelligent player. He forced Rense to make most of the running round the court with his tosses and cross-court placements.

It wasn’t an arduous terrain for Sudhanshu to tread. He defeated his rival as easily as a knife slinking through a cake of cheese.

In another pre-quarterfinal match, Viren Deshpande defeated Yash Deepak Shah 21-9, 21-13 and sneaked into last eight in U-13 Boys’ singles event.

RESULTS: U-13 Boys’ Singles: Viren Deshpande bt Yash Deepak Shah 21-9, 21-13; seed Sudhanshu Medsikar bt Ajinkya Rense 21-11, 21-10