Thursday, 31 March 2011

Formula One.. where's Narain Karthikeyan?

Formula One season started with the Australian Grand Prix last weekend.

Narain Karthikeyan representing the HRT team participated in the qualifying round. However, due to the rule of 107 percent - you need to complete within 107% time of the top finisher in the first session to qualify for the race -  he and his team could not qualify for the final race , as they finished way beyond that bracket.

The major reason was that the HRT team failed to get everything in place wrt the car and the associated engineering. Thus, the driver simply had no pre-season test sessions and jumped into the Grand Prix weekend directly.

Next up is the Grand Prix in Malaysia at Sepang on April 10. Hope his team is able to put the car in place and then Narain can have a go at the qualifying and get into the main race.

Meanwhile, Force India team did very well and both drivers finished in top -10 to earn points straightaway.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Somdev at it again...

Somdev Devvarman is having a great run in the Tennis Masters. After his great performance at Indian Wells (read post), he reached the third round of the Miami Masters, before bowing out to World No. 6 David Ferrer, 4-6, 2-6.

Somdev gave a very good account of himself in the first set and broke Ferrer in the first game itself. Thereafter, the breaking of serves continued until 3-3 and then went on serve before Ferrer broke him again to win the set 6-4.

As is the hallmark of Somdev's game, he tried to return every ball thrown at him and had some very good long rallies, one that I remember lasted 28 strokes !!

Its great to see Somdev give a run-for-their-money to top players. I sincerely hope that he improves his game even further to get a look-in top-50 soon. These run-ins with the top players (he played Nadal recently) will definitely do him a world-of-good.

One thing I noticed is that his first serve percentage dropped in this game. It has been a huge positive for him as he gets a higher percentage of his first-serves in. Guess he needs to work on that a bit more and the results can start flowing in even more for him.

Way to go Somdev!!!

The Vishy Magic...what happens next?

The Indian chess wizard and world chess champion Vishwanathan Anand, finished 3rd in the famed Amber Chess tournament at Monaco, a couple of days back. Levon Aronian won the tournament while Magnus Carlsen was second.

While Vishy has been weaving his magic on the chess board and winning many titles around the world on a regular basis for the past many years, the question that comes to mind is who is the next in line to take such rich legacy forward. I do not see any Indian player at this time doing that.

There have been quite a few good players like Sasikiran, Parimarjan Negi and P.Harikrishna, however, haven't seen any of them reaching heights of Anand.

What is lacking or is it that Anand is realy far ahead.. thoughts?

Meanwhile, do you know what Blindfold Chess is? well, it is not that the players are blindfolded and play against each other.
As per wikipedia... Blindfold chess (also known as sans voir) is a way to play chess, whereby play is conducted without the players having sight of the positions of the pieces, or any physical contact with them. This forces players to maintain a mental model of the positions of the pieces. Moves are communicated via a recognized chess notation
Just to add, Vishwanathan Anand is a champion of this blindfold chess!!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Football - the ball starts to roll .....

This is great news for Indian football.

Yesterday (23rd March,2011), India beat Pakistan 3-1 in their second match of the Group B 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers at Kuala Lumpur and secured a place in the final round. Turkmenistan is the other team to qualify from Group B. The venue of the final round is yet to be decided.

In the match, India was trailing 0-1 at the half-time and slammed in 3 goals well into the second half to secure the win.

India had earlier beaten Chinese Taipei 3-0, a couple of days back.

Please recall that India had won the 2008 edition of the tournament which had given them the chance to play in the AFC Asian Cup in January held in Qatar.

With the continuous improvement shown by the Football team, I hope they get more exposure thru more tournaments throughout the year. Competing against (somewhat) better placed teams will give management insights into their strengths and work on improvement areas to bridge the gap. This will help them climb the ladder steadily and surely. Also, it will be a good idea to take the team to training grounds of some of the leading teams or maybe even club sides from the EPL to see and get inspired.

The players perspiration and the inspiration can really do wonders and we can see an emerging Indian Football team. (Maybe it is already planned and being done... we do not know the behind-the-scenes preparations.)

Way to go Indian Football !!!

Next up... I will cover Chess to bring to you what Vishy is doing :-)..

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Double S do India proud....

The Indian Tennis's double S - Sania and Somdev have done really well in the last few weeks. While Somdev was a key player for India against Serbia in the Davis Cup and also reached the pre-quarters of Indian Wells Tournament, Sania sneaked in a good doubles play and won the women's double at the same tournament at Indian Wells, US.

Somdev Devvarman is the new flag bearer of Indian Men's tennis. He shone bright in the Davis cup tie against last year's winners Serbia. Although the score line of 1-4 in favor of Serbia does not reflect much, but Somedev was the shining light winning the only match against Tapservic, ranked 45 in the world. He paired with Rohan Bopanna, to give a tough fight to the Serbians in the crucial doubles match. The match lasted over 3 hrs. and was a treat to watch.

Next, He moved to the US and played thru the qualifiers to reach the main draw. He beat good and seeded players like Baghdatis, the 19th seed, to reach the pre-quarterfinals and ran into Rafael Nadal, the World No.1. By the way, he beat Baghdatis 7-5, 6-0!!!

It was a good opportunity for Somdev to show his class against Nadal.. and he did so in style. He started by being 2-0 up in the 1st set and then moved to 5-5 before losing the first set 7-5. Everyone thought that the second set would be a cakewalk for Nadal and were expecting a 6-0 whitewash, but Somdev surprised everyone and held him 4-4 before losing 6-4. The highlight of his play was mixing the speeds of his serves and made Nadal do a lot of work on the returns. One of the ralies lasted 23 strokes and was a real treat to watch. At the end, the crowd gave him a standing ovation!!

Watching him play like this made me really proud and we can say that a top 50 slot is not far and we will see a lot of him in the coming days.

Somdev is now ranked 73rd after his brilliant run at Indian Wells, up 11 places.

Meanwhile, Sania Mirza participated in the Women's doubles at the same tournament at Indian Wells. She partnered Russia's Elena Vesnina . After some splendid play, they reached the finals and finally won against eighth seeds Mattek-Sands and Shaughnessy 6-0, 7-5.

For records, Mirza and Vesnina, who were quarter-finalists at Dubai and Doha in February, were unseeded in this Indian Wells tournament.

Perhaps Sania is looking to move to doubles as her Singles ranking is not going where she would like it to be. Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, Let's see what more good results we get from the double S :-).

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Badminton Queen checkmates opponents

India's rising Badminton star, Saina Nehwal, won the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold Tournament on Sunday, 20th March 2011. This was her first Title of the year. Last year she had won 5 titles including 3 SuperSeries tournaments besides winning the CommonWealth Gold medal at CWG Delhi 2010.

With this win she is now World No. 4 (as per list released on Monday, 21st March, 2011).

Earlier this month, she reached the last 8 in the All England Badminton Championships. Although she was seeded 5th, she could not cross the hurdle in the form of Eriko Hirose of Japan and went down in straight games.

An interesting point to note is that she again played Eriko in the Swiss tournament and this time defeated her, thereby avenging her All England loss.

We look forward to many more such victories from Saina in the days and years to come.

The Start........

Dear Indian Sports Fans,

With the Cricket World Cup 2011 going on in India, Cricket has taken center stage ...No one had any doubts about that with India being a cricket-crazy nation :).

At the same time we had some great performances by other Indian athletes - Badminton: Saina Nehwal winning the Swiss Open (after a slightly less-than expected performance in All-England); Tennis: Somdev Devvarman reaching the pre-quarter-finals of the Indian Wells (US) tournament, finally going down to World No.1 Rafael Nadal, and Sania Mirza winning the women's doubles at the same tournament.

However, these great moments were overshadowed by cricket.

Through this blog, I would endeavor to keep track of non-Cricket sports in India and bring to you the latest happenings in those - be it Chess (where Vishy is holding sway), Football (Can our team retain AFC championship), Hockey (what is happening to the national sport), and all other sporting disciplines. (though occasionally I may venture into Cricket also :-)..). This will help record and remember what all these great althelets are doing and give these sports a platform...This is my humble contribution as an Indian Sports Fan.

In the Next few posts, I would write about recent performances of Indian athletes in Tennis and Badminton. Watch out !!

Happy Reading !!