Indian sports news wrap, February 3

Here are all the major developments in Indian sports from February 3, 2023.

Published : Feb 03, 2023 18:55 IST

FILE PHOTO: Indian equestrian, Fouaad Mirza in action.
FILE PHOTO: Indian equestrian, Fouaad Mirza in action. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

FILE PHOTO: Indian equestrian, Fouaad Mirza in action. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT


Waiving off import duty on warmblood horses will improve standard of equestrian: EFI

The government’s decision to waive off import duty on warmblood horses, enabling Indian athletes to buy high-quality mounts at affordable prices, will help in improving the standard of the sport in the country, says Equestrian Federation of India (EFI) Secretary General Colonel Jaiveer Singh.

Warmbloods are a group of middle-weight horse types and breeds primarily originating in Europe. They have a lively temperament and excel in equestrian sports such as dressage, showjumping and eventing unlike the Indian breed Kathiawari.

“The Indian breed is called kathiawari but due their size and temperament, they are not suited for equestrian sports,” Singh told PTI.

“Now with the exemption, individuals can buy more expensive and better quality horses. Existing standards will improve with the import of better quality and grade horses,” Singh said.

In equestrians, a horse is very important for a rider. It is equivalent to a rifle for a shooter or a racquet for a tennis player.

A decent warmblood’s price starts from Rs 40 lakh with the importer having to pay a 30 per cent Basic Customs Duty, 12 per cent Integrated Goods and Services (IGST) and 10 per cent Social Welfare Surcharge, making it difficult for an individual rider to pursue the sport.

So, a horse worth Rs 40 lakh would cost 61 lacks, and if the transport cost is added, it comes to nearly one crore.

According to Singh, the exemption will bring down the cost by 52 per cent.

The EFI had been seeking an exemption on import duty for warmbloods since 2020 and on Wednesday the government announced it has waived the import duty on warmblood horses, starting February 2, 2023.

However, the exemption, approved for five years in the annual budget, will only be extended to sportspersons of eminence.

According to the National Sports Code of India, medal winners in international events which are recognised by corresponding international bodies, Arjuna Awardees; athletes who have achieved up to 8th position in individual events or up to 4th position in team events in the open National Championship/National Games; and in case of junior players, the sportspersons who have achieved upto 8th position in individual events or upto 4th position in team events in the national championship are defined as sportspersons of eminence.

But Singh is confident the move will have a wider impact on the equestrian fraternity in the country.

“More people will take up the sport since it is still in the nascent stage of development in India with lots of promise at the international level,” he added.



Shaurya Bawa overcomes Paarth Ambani for under-19 boys title

Top seed Shaurya Bawa overcame stiff resistance from Paarth Ambani for a 11-9, 13-11, 3-11, 7-11, 11-9 in the under-19 boys final of the 12th HCL India Open junior squash championship at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Friday.

After fighting hard to take the first two games, Shaurya slowed a bit which saw Paarth grab the opportunity with both hands to get level. In the decider, Shaurya came back with renewed energy to pull through for a thrilling victory, and celebrated by jumping for joy.

In the under-17 girls final, Anahat Singh pulverised the challenge from second seed Yashi Jain for the loss of three points.

In the longest match of the tournament, second seed Kovin Surendran of Malaysia survived match points to beat Shayan Samtani of the USA, 12-10, 3-11, 11-8, 15-17, 16-14.

In the girls under-13 final, Aadya Budhia beat top seed Aarika Mishra in five games.

Shaurya Bawa celebrates victory over Paarth Ambani in the under-19 boys final of the HCL India Open junior squash championship in Delhi on Friday.
Shaurya Bawa celebrates victory over Paarth Ambani in the under-19 boys final of the HCL India Open junior squash championship in Delhi on Friday. | Photo Credit: Kamesh Srinivasan

Shaurya Bawa celebrates victory over Paarth Ambani in the under-19 boys final of the HCL India Open junior squash championship in Delhi on Friday. | Photo Credit: Kamesh Srinivasan

The results (finals):
Boys: Under-19: Shaurya Bawa bt Paarth Ambani 11-9, 13-11, 3-11, 7-11, 11-9.
Under-17: Rohan Gondi bt Arihant KS 11-2, 12-14, 11-6, 11-4.
Under-15: Aryaveer Dewan bt Erwin Kros Christopher (Mas) 11-4, 11-5, 11-4
Under-13: Simarver Singh Bamotra (Mas) bt Shrrinith Subhas 11-6, 13-15, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6.
Under-11: Kovin Surendran (Mas) bt Shayan Samtani (USA) 12-10, 3-11 11-8, 15-17, 16-14.
Girls: Under-19: Yuvna Gupta bt Saniya Jaggi 11-4, 11-6, 11-5.
Under-17: Anahat Singh bt Yashi Jain 11-1, 11-0, 11-2.
Under-15: Akanksha Guptabt Sehar Nayar 11-6, 11-7, 11-7.
Under-13: Aadya Budhia bt Aarika Mishra 13-11, 7-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-2.
Under-11: Anika Klanki bt Avantikashrii Seenivasagam (Mas) 11-7, 11-4, 11-6.

-Kamesh Srinivasan


AITA women’s tournament - Riya Uboveja wins title

FILE PHOTO: Kashish Bhatia (L) and Riya Uboveja
FILE PHOTO: Kashish Bhatia (L) and Riya Uboveja | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

FILE PHOTO: Kashish Bhatia (L) and Riya Uboveja | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Second seed Riya Uboveja beat Janani Ramesh 6-1, 6-2 in the final of the Rs.100,000 AITA women’s tennis tournament at the Joygaon Academy on Friday.

Janani had beaten a string of good players, including top seed Sahira Singh, but was unable to make a fight against Riya in the final.

More than the title and the prize, the string of matches should help Riya, who did not drop a set, to play with confidence in the ITFwomen’s tournaments to be hosted on clay at the venue over the next fortnight.

The results
Final: Riya Uboveja bt Janani Ramesh 6-1, 6-2

-Kamesh Srinivasan

ITF men’s - Prajwal Dev in the doubles final

SD Prajwal Dev, in partnership with Nathan Seateun of France, made the doubles final with a 4-6, 7-6(9), [10-8] victory over Yan Bondarevskiy and Ryan James Storrie in the $15,000 ITF men’s tennis tournament in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on Friday.

In the final, the Indo-French pair will play Egor Agafonov and Vladislav Ivanov.

The results:
$15,000 ITF men, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt -
Doubles (semifinals): Nathan Seateun (Fra) & SD Prajwal Dev bt Ryan James Storrie (GBR) & Yan Bondarevskiy 4-6, 7-6(9), [10-8].

-Kamesh Srinivasan


Manu Gandas misses cut on debut in Ras Al Khaimah; 3-way lead at top

FILE PHOTO: Manu Gandas, winner of the Chennai Open golf tournament.
FILE PHOTO: Manu Gandas, winner of the Chennai Open golf tournament. | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

FILE PHOTO: Manu Gandas, winner of the Chennai Open golf tournament. | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

India’s Manu Gandas missed the cut on his debut at the Ras Al Khaimah Championships despite an even-par second round at the Al Hamra Golf Course here.

Gandas, No. 1 on the Indian PGTI Tour in 2022, who earned a card into the DP World Tour, shot 75 on the first day and added an even-par 72 with three birdies and as many bogeys on the second day.

He will now play in the DP World Tour events in Singapore and Thailand next.

Meanwhile, Poland’s first winner on the DP World Tour, Adrian Meronk, one of the members of the Continental Europe team, which won the Hero Cup last month, moved into the shared lead at the halfway stage of the USD 2 million events.

Meronk followed his first round 68 with a superb 65 to get to 11-under and shared the lead with Rasmus Hojgaard’s, whose twin brother won the event last year.

Hojgaard carded 66-67 while Scotland’s David Law shot 69-64 to be part of the leading trio.

Overnight leader Japan’s Ryo Hisatsune (64-70) dropped to tied fourth alongside Will Besseling (68-66), Daniel Gavins (68-66) and Dale Whitnell (71-63) at 10-under.

Defending champion Nicolai Hojgaard (71-66) was tied for 15th, while three-time Major winner, 51-year-old Padraig Harrington (69-70) was tied for 23rd.


Aditi extends lead to 5 shots at halfway stage in Kenya; Amandeep makes cut

FILE PHOTO: Aditi Ashok in action.
FILE PHOTO: Aditi Ashok in action. | Photo Credit: Sportsfile via Getty Images

FILE PHOTO: Aditi Ashok in action. | Photo Credit: Sportsfile via Getty Images

Aditi Ashok, coming into the new season after almost two months without golf, continued her fine run as she extended her lead from four to five shots at the halfway stage of the Magical Kenya Ladies Open.

The star Indian, who already has three Ladies European titles, including one at home, shot 3-under 70 at the Par-73 Vipingo Ridge course.

She had shot 6-under 67 on the first day when she led by four shots and is now five clear of the field.

Aditi, who had six birdies and an eagle against two bogeys on the first day, had just one bogey on the second. She started on the 10th with a birdie and then had nine pars till her next two birdies on the second and third holes.

A bogey on the fifth and a birdie on the seventh, which she had eagled a day earlier saw her finish the day at 3-under 70 and a total of 9-under 137.

The 2022 Hero Women’s Indian Open runner-up Amandeep Drall ensured weekend action after shooting another 74. She is 2 over through 36 holes and is tied 21st.

India’s prodigious amateur Avani Prashanth, playing on an invite, also made the cut despite three bogeys in her last six holes. She was 1-under in the second round through 12 holes and then bogeyed 13th, 14th and 16th for a second straight 75. At 4-over she was tied for 33rd.

Diksha Dagar (78-80), Vani Kapoor (81 and 4-over through 17 in the second) and Seher Atwal (81 and 4-over through 16 in the second) were certain to miss the cut.

Aditi said, “It has been a great start to the tournament. Yesterday was a much better round, I didn’t know how I was playing coming into this week because of two months of no tournament golf, but I think nine-under after two days is pretty good. Hopefully, I can keep it going for the weekend.” Teenaged Thai golfer April Angurasaranee, who came through the Let Qualifying School added a second straight 71 to get to 4-under and was sole second.

Spain’s Marta Sanz Barrio (71-72) was the sole third at 3-under, while three players were tied for fourth at 2-under each.

Only Alice Hewson (71-73), playing alongside Aditi, had finished. Ana Pelaez Trivino of Spain and Kylie Henry of Scotland were both 2-under but had played only nine holes in their second round.

Aditi was happy with her play in the second round. “It was good. I think for the most part I played pretty consistently today, there was just one dropped shot, which was good. I feel I could have driven it a bit better and hit it closer than I did but overall, it was a good day,” said Aditi.

“I don’t know why my driving was a little off. Maybe I didn’t warm up as well this morning or I guess when the wind picked up, I couldn’t find my rhythm. It’s easy on this course to hit 3-woods as well so that kind of helped me a bit, but definitely the drives I couldn’t get good angles into some of the holes and some of the par-fives, I didn’t drive it long enough because I wasn’t driving it as good. It’s something to work on for the weekend.” She added, “I think the morning is a bit easier because the wind isn’t as strong, and it hasn’t picked up as much. I guess as the wind gets up, the course is firm so it’s really hard to get the ball close -- that’s what I felt between yesterday and today.”


Ridhima makes cut in Sun City as Pranavi misses out by one shot

FILE PHOTO: Ridhima Dilawari.
FILE PHOTO: Ridhima Dilawari. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

FILE PHOTO: Ridhima Dilawari. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Ridhima Dilawari, starting her international season in South Africa, comfortably made the cut at the SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Ridhima, who hopes to play well in the Sunshine Tour and find a way into the Ladies European Tour, added 1-under 71 to her first round of 4-over 76 to be tied-16th at 3-over.

Fellow Indian, Pranavi Urs played superbly for 3-under 69 that included a birdie-eagle finish but she still missed out on the cut by one shot. Her first round 82 cost her dearly as she ended at 7-over and the cut fell at 6-over.

With Top-30 and ties making the cut, Ridhima is assured action for the third and final day.

A second round 5-under-par 67 helped Casandra Alexander surge to the top of the leader board.

With her first-round of 2-under-par 70, Alexander has a four-shot cushion after taking the lead on seven-under at Gary Player Country Club. Clara Young (71-71), Lee Ann Pace (69-73) and Lily May Humphreys (70-72) were tied second.

Ridhima had a fine front nine with three birdies and no bogeys but on the back nine she gave away two bogeys against one birdie in her 71.


Amateur Aryan Roopa Anand wins PGTI Qualifying School by six shots

Bengaluru-based amateur Aryan Roopa Anand carded a last round of two-under 68 to finish as the wire-to-wire winner with an impressive six-shot margin in the Final Qualifying Stage of the TATA Steel PGTI Qualifying School in Kolkata on Friday.

He totalled 20-under 260 (64-63-65-68) at the Tollygunge Club.

Twenty-one-year-old Aryan thus became the first amateur in six years to win the PGTI Qualifying School. The last time an amateur won the Qualifying School was Dhruv Sheoran in 2017.

Faridabad’s Karan Pratap Singh (68-65-65-68) finished runner-up at 14-under 266 after he too returned a final round of 70.

Sri Lankan K Prabhagaran (65-71-67-65) took the third place at 12-under 268 following a bogey-free fourth round of 65 to end up as the best performing foreign player.

The cut in the final round went at four-over 284 with the top 34 players earning their full cards for the 2023 TATA Steel PGTI season. Among the six players tied at 32nd, the top three based on count back earned their full cards.

The top 34 included seven amateurs. There were also five foreigners (one each from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, USA and Canada) among the 34 players who earned their full cards.

Aryan, currently the leading amateur in the country and two-time All India Amateur champion, had a slow start with an early bogey on the third but got back into his stride with birdies on the sixth, 10th, 13th, 16th and 17th that included two long conversions from a range of 20 to 30 feet.

He finally crossed the line with a comfortable six-shot margin despite the double-bogey on the 18th hole.

“My win is a big morale-booster. As I look to begin my professional journey, this victory gives me a taste of what it is like to be on top in a professional event,” Aryan said.

“I came into this week with no expectations and just focused on consistency and shooting low scores. I had set certain targets for myself and I was competing against myself rather than anyone else.

“It was a week of clean hitting and even when I was not at my best, I managed to grind it out. I was very pleased with my scoring as the total of 20-under is my personal best at a tournament,” added Anand, who plays at the KGA in Bengaluru.

Runner-up Karan Pratap Singh’s last round saw him make an eagle, three birdies and three bogeys as he bagged the top prize money cheque of Rs. 75,000 for finishing as the best professional.



Bhateri loses in the semifinal, to fight for bronze in Zagreb

Junior world championships silver medallist Bhateri will fight for bronze in women’s 65kg category after losing by technical superiority to Japan’s Mahiro Yoshitake in the Zagreb Open, here Friday.

The 22-year-old Indian wrestler will now take on Croatia’s Iva Geric in the bronze medal match.

Though Bhateri started the bout on a positive note, matching the Japanese wrestler in speed and technique, she was overpowered in the second period with her opponent affecting six take-down moves.

Bhateri had taken a 2-1 lead at the start of the second period and there was hope she would fight till the very end, but once the resistance was broken there was no looking back for the Japanese.

The other Indian woman wrestler Radhika lost to Irina Ringanci in the 68kg quarter-final, with the Moldovan earning the victory by fall.

Radhika was no match for the 21-year-old Ringanci, winner of the World Championships gold in Olso in 2021, with the Moldovan’s aggressive game seeing her notch up six points in the first period.

Ringanci overpowered India within the first 30 seconds of the bout with her far superior technique, and at the end of the first period she was leading 6-2.

The second period saw the Moldovan come at the tiring Indian even more aggressively. Ringanci effected a takedown, which fetched her four points and a victory by fall with one minute left on the timer.

On Thursday, Aman Sehrawat clinched a bronze medal in the men’s 57kg category after the 17-year-old defeated Zane Raye Rhodes Richards of the US 10-4.

India’s top eight wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya had opted out of the tournament, a decision which came following their revolt against the Wrestling Federation of India and its chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

World Championship medallist Deepak Punia (86kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), Sangeeta Phogat (62kg), Sarita Mor (59kg), Jitendra Kinha (79kg) have also opted out of the event.


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