BIRMINGHAM: A hammering in the ring followed by a thumping on the court— both by the same margin and against opponents from the same country. The first day of action at the Commonwealth Games wasn’t too inspiring for Pakistan.
Pakistan boxer Suleman Baloch was no match for his Indian opponent Shiva Thapa while the country’s mixed badminton team was swatted aside by their arch-rivals on Friday.
Pakistan’s four swimmers also failed to progress to the semi-finals from their heats while the same fate befell gymnast Mohammad Afzal.
The only bright spot for Pakistan was Nasir Iqbal’s 3-0 win over Jamaica’s James Morrison in the round-of-64 of the men’s singles squash competition.
Iqbal won 11-5, 11-4, 11-3 and his victory ensured Pakistan are guaranteed a spot in the round-of-16 as he set up a clash with compatriot Tayyab Aslam.
Earlier at the National Exhibition Centre, Suleman lost 5-0 to Thapa, who hardly broke a sweat to advance to the round-of-16 of the light welterweight (63.5kg) category.
The nimble-footed Thapa, five-time Asian Championship medallist, was at his calculative best against Suleman who started off aggressively, exploiting his height to the fullest.
But Thapa ensured that Suleman had some misses up front to tire him out before going for the kill, bringing all his experience to play from second round onwards.
He landed some quick jabs as Suleman lost control for a split second in the remaining minutes. At one point, Suleman lunged forward to punch but Thapa effortlessly moved out of the way as the Pakistan boxer fell on the canvas.
The Indian was scored as the winner by all five courtside judges — 30-26, 30-25, 30-28, 30-36, 30-26 and 30-23 — for the bout.
Pakistan’s shuttlers were also no match for India’s fancied line-up which swept to a 5-0 win in the Group ‘A’ opener.
Mohammad Irfan Saeed Bhatti and Ghazala Siddique fell to a 21-9, 21-12 loss in the mixed doubles clash to B. Sumeeth Reddy and Machimanda Ponnappa before Kidambi Srikanth got the better of Pakistan’s Murad Ali 21-7 21-12 in the men’s singles match.
Victory for India was secured when double Olympic medallist P. V. Sindhu grabbed a dominant 21-7, 21-6 win over Mahoor Shahzad in the women’s singles.
Murad and Irfan then went down 21-12, 21-9 to Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty in the men’s doubles and the rout for India was completed when Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand crushed Mahoor and Ghazala 21-4, 21-5 in the women’s doubles.
Pakistan’s first representation at the Games came in the pool but that also ended in disappointment although Haseeb Tariq bettered his national record. The 26-year-old clocked 25.97 seconds in the 50m butterfly, finishing 35th among 54 competitors.
Mishael Ayub clocked 37.96 in the women’s 50m breastroke and was third-bottom among 33 competitors while Bisma Khan finished her 100m butterfly heat in a minute and 8.21 seconds to stand 31st among 38.
Jahanara was 22nd among 30 swimmers in the 200m freestyle after clocking two minutes and 31.28 seconds.
Elsewhere, Afzal failed to qualify for any of the three apparatus finals in gymnastics.
The 39-year-old Afzal finished second-bottom among 19 competitors in the floor exercise, 12th out of 14 in the rings and last in the vault during the qualification round.
Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2022