Indian sportspersons maintained their traditional dominance over their regional rivals, winning most of their contests with ease on the opening day of the 12th South Asian Games (SAG) on Saturday.
Indian archers assured themselves of four gold and an equal number of silver medals in the compound and recurve events. Defending champion Tarundeep Rai and Gurucharan Besra along with former world number one Deepika Kumari and Bombayla Devi Laishram stormed into the final of recurve men’s and women’s sections, respectively.
India’s top archers Depika and Bombayia Devi will be facing each other in the recurve final. Depika defeated Beauty Ray of Bangladesh and Bombayia Devi defeated Karma from Bhutan in the semi-finals.
In the women’s compound event, India’s Purvasha Sudhir Shende would face Jyothi Surekha Vennam in the final. Purvasha defeated Tammanna Parvin of Bangladesh while Jyoti defeated Sushmita Banik from Bangladesh in the semi-final.
Abhishek Verma and Rajat Chauhan of India would now fight for gold in the final in the compound competition for men. Abhishek defeated Tshewang Dorji of Bhutan and Rajat defeated Tashi Deljor of Bhutan in the semi-final round.
Tarundeep and Gurcharan would fight for gold in the men’s recurve competition. Tarundeep defeated Prem Prasad Pun from Nepal while Gurcharan defeated Nipuna Senevirathne of Sri Lanka in the semi-final round.
In badminton, Indian shuttlers beat Maldives and Bangladesh in the men’s team event league stage. India won 3-0 on both occasions, leaving little room for the rivals to make their presence felt.
The Indian men’s team comprising singles players Kidambi Srikanth, Ajay Jayram and H.S. Prannoy and doubles combinations Manu Attri-Sumeeth Reddy and Akshay Dewalker-Pranay Chopra made quick work of their opponents in the morning session.
India is clubbed in Group A with Maldives, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
While Md Ajfan of Maldives did offer a semblance of resistance against Srikanth in the first game of the day, it was all India thereafter. Srikanth won 21-17, 21-12.
Jayram, meanwhile, was a man in a hurry and beat his Maldives opponent Zayan Zaki 21-8, 21-5 to make it 2-0 for India. Later, Attri and Reddy beat the Maldives doubles pair of Zaki and Rasheed 21-8, 21-10 to close the contest in India’s favour.
In the second session, India repeated the feat against a spirited Bangladesh side. Prannoy started off the tie by beating Ayman Jaman 21-14, 21-13.
Rais Uddin put up a dogged fight, though only for a short while against India’s B. Sai Praneeth. But he eventually went down 21-17, 21-18. Later, it was a cakewalk for the Indian doubles pair of Manu and Sumeeth who beat Ayman and Rais 21-8, 21-9.
At the table tennis arena, India’s women paddlers moved into the semi-finals of the team events beating Maldives and Pakistan.
The Indian women team comprising Manika Batra, Madhurika Patkar and Pooja Sahasrabudhe swept aside the Maldivian trio of Jumana Fathimath, Mueena Mohamed and Rafa Nazim 3-0 without dropping a single game.
The Indian women then beat Pakistan 3-0, again without dropping a game, with a team comprising Mouma Das, K. Shamini and Madhurika.
“We are playing very well. Our aim now is to win the finals but we have to work hard for that,” Manika told IANS.
However, she admitted that the next match against the Sri Lankan will be a tougher one.
“They (Sri Lanka) are a pretty good side but we are all prepared to take on them on Saturday,” Manika added.