Indian sports news wrap, January 27

Here are all the major developments in Indian sports on January 27, 2023.

Published : Jan 27, 2023 17:35 IST

Matt Neal, three-time British Touring Cars champion.
Matt Neal, three-time British Touring Cars champion. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Matt Neal, three-time British Touring Cars champion. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


British racing ace gives top marks for MIC

Three-time British Touring Cars champion Matt Neal labeled the Madras International Circuit as unique.

On a business trip to India, Neal, 56, visited the MIC on invitation on Friday during the final round of the Indian National Car Racing Championship and even drove a few laps in the Volkswagen Virtus of the Indian Touring Cars category.

Branding the track as “very technical and challenging” given its mix of tight and fast corners besides a couple of fast straights, Neal opined the circuit is an excellent platform for those cutting their racing teeth.

“I have never driven on a track like this (the MIC) and it was quite enjoyable. I did about five-six laps. It has a character that is unique in its own way, like other tracks around the world. The track has a very fast corner at Turn-1, a few mid-speed corners, and some tight sections like the ‘S’ leading up to the bridge,” he said.

The grass run-off areas add to the personality of the track, but you got to respect the limits,” said Neal, a six-times BTCC Independents champion between 1993-2006.

“To be honest, I would rate this track about seven on a scale of 10. You could have more variety with fast corners, but it has its own challenges and personality. Definitely in the top half. It is great for motorsport in India as well,” Neal said.

-Team Sportstar

Indian National Car Racing Championship, Round 4 pole position for Sohil Shah, Ritesh Rai

Bengaluru’s Sohil Shah, who qualified for pole position in the MRF F2000 category.
Bengaluru’s Sohil Shah, who qualified for pole position in the MRF F2000 category. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Bengaluru’s Sohil Shah, who qualified for pole position in the MRF F2000 category. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Bengaluru youngster Sohil Shah and Chennai’s Ritesh Rai grabbed pole position in the MRF Formula 2000 and Volkswagen Polo Cup categories, respectively, on the opening day of the fourth and final round of the Indian National Car Racing Championship at the Madras International Circuit on Friday.

The 21-year old Shah set a best time of one minute, 31.668 seconds to qualify for the pole position ahead of championship leader Sai Sanjay from Salem (01:32.095) and Gurugram’s Divy Nandan (01:32.246). In fact, Sohil went quicker in the qualifying as compared to his time in the practice session (01:31.969) earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, 40-year old Chennai racer, Ritesh Rai, who is placed eighth in the championship, put in a hot lap of 01:56.000 to earn himself the pole position in the VW Polo Cup. Qualifying for P2 was Mumbai’s Pratik Sonawane (01:56.419) who heads the points table, while Raaj Bakhru (01:56.605), also from Mumbai, will start tomorrow’s race from P3.

Earlier, Coimbatore’s Arjun Narendran (Arka Motorsports), placed second in the points table behind Arjun Balu (Race Concepts), warmed up for the double-header by topping the time sheets in the Indian Touring Cars practice session with a 01:52.389. Veteran Balu, the defending champion, had issues with an overheating engine after just two laps which forced him to pit.

Gurunath Meiyappan (Race Concepts, 01:54.901) and Ritesh Rai (Performance Racing, 02:03.252) were the fastest in the practice session for Indian Junior Touring Cars and Super Stock categories, respectively.

Championship contender in the Formula LGB 1300, Viswas Vijayraj from Nellore (DTS Racing) was the fastest in the practice sessions with a best lap of 01:51.451. Behind him were teammate Diljith TS (01:51.533) from Thrissur and championship leader Mamallapuram’s Raghul Rangasamy (01:51.698) of MSport.

Gurugram’s Justin Singh, who heads the points table, was the fastest in practice for the MRF Saloons (Toyota Etios) category, clocking 02:02.427.

The results (Qualifying – top 3):
MRF F2000: 1. Sohil Shah (Bengaluru) (1:31.668); 2. Sai Sanjay (Salem) (1:32.095); 3. Divy Nandan (Gurugram) (1:32.246).
Volkswagen Polo Cup: 1. Ritesh Rai (Chennai) (1:56.000); 2. Pratik Sonawane (Mumbai) (1:56.419); 3. Raaj Bakhru (Mumbai) (1:56.605).

-Team Sportstar


ITF junior: Sohini Mohanty wins title

Sohini Mohanty beat second seed Rishitha Basireddy 6-4, 6-2 to set up a title clash against top seed Sonal Patil in the ITF junior tennis tournament at the Indore Tennis Club on Friday.

The boys final will be between the top two seeds Hitesh Chauhan and Cahir Warik.

The results:
Boys (semifinals): Hitesh Chauhan bt Jaishnav Shinde 6-4, 6-3; Cahir Warik bt Tejas Ahuja 6-4, 7-6(4).
Doubles (final): Sehaj Singh Pawar & Debasis Sahoo bt Sriniketh Kannan & Vansh Nandal 6-3, 6-1.
Girls (semifinals): Sonal Patil bt Harithashree Venkatesh 6-2, 7-5; Sohini Mohanty bt Rishitha Basireddy 6-4, 6-2.
Doubles (final): Asmi Adkar & Sonal Patil bt Aishwarya Jadhav & Sohini Mohanty 6-4, 6-3.

Ankita Raina loses to Tatjana Maria in ITF India 02A

Wimbledon semifinalist Tatjana Maria of Germany beat Ankita Raina 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals of the $40,000 ITF women’s tennis tournament at the Deccan Gymkhana on Friday.

In the final, top seed Tatjana will play second seed Nigina Abduraimova of Uzbekistan who beat Valeria Savinykh in three sets.

Ankita and Prarthana Thombare made the doubles final, and will play Gozal Ainitdinova and Zhibek Kulambayeva of Kazahstan who beat second seeds Rutuja Bhosale and Ekaterina Yashina 10-5 in the super tie-break.

The results (semifinals):
Singles: Tatjana Maria (Ger) bt Ankita Raina 6-3, 6-1; Nigina Abduraimova bt Valeria Savinykh 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Doubles: Ankita Raina & Prarthana Thombare bt Diana Marcinkevica (Lat) & Rosale Van der Hoek (Ned) 6-4, 6-1; Gozal Ainitdinova & Zhibek Kulambayeva (Kaz) bt Rutuja Bhossale & Ekaterina Yashina 6-2, 2-6, 10-5].

AITA men’s tournament: Kamboj beats Kesarwani in final

Udit Kamboj beat Maan Kesarwani 7-6(1), 2-6, 7-6(3) in the final of the Rs.100,000 AITA men’s tennis tournament at the Tennis Project, Baliawas.

The results (final):
Udit Kamboj bt Maan Kesarwani 7-6(1), 2-6, 7-6(3); Semifinals: Udit bt Aman Dahiya 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-5; Maan bt Sarthak Suden 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Quarterfinals: Udit bt Denim Yadav 6-2, 6-3; Aman bt Karthik Saxena 6-0, 6-2; Maan bt Mukil Ramanan 6-3, 6-3; Sarthakk bt Amandeep Singh 6-2, 5-7, 6-1.

AITA women’s tennis tournament: Himaanshika Singh wins title

Top seed Himaanshika Singh beat Sachi Sharma 6-2, 6-2 to clinch the title in the Rs.100,000 AITA women’s tennis tournament at the Joygaon Academy on Friday.

The results (finals):
Singles: Himaanshika Singh bt Sachi Sharma 6-2, 6-2.
Doubles: Medhavi Singh & Ayushi Singh bt Yashika & Manshi Singh 6-2, 7 6(4).

Arnav Paparkar wins title in Melbourne

Arnav Paparkar outclassed top seed Kunanan Pantaratorn of Thailand 6-3, 6-0 in the final of the Asia-Pacific Elite under-14 tennis tournament in Melbourne on Friday.

It was an impressive performance by the wiry Arnav as he won five matches, dropping only 12 games in all, in a special event organised by the Australian Open for players from Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, India, Japan, French Polynesia, New Zealand and host Australia.

Anirudh and Arjun in doubles semifinals

Anirudh Chandrasekar and Arjun Kadhe beat second seeds Albano Olivetti and Hunter Reese 6-3, 1-6, [10-7] in the doubles quarterfinals of the €145,000 Challenger tennis tournament in Quimper, France, on Friday.

In the $25,000 ITF event in Kuwait, Prajnesh Gunneswaran outplayed Jakub Mensik of Czech Republic 6-2, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.

The results:
€145,000 Challenger, Ottignies Louvain, Belgium: Doubles (pre-quarterfinals): Michael Geerts (Bel) & Ramkumar Ramanathan bt Charles Broom (GBR) & Constantin Frantzen (Ger) 6-7(10), 6-4, [10-7].
€145,000 Challenger, Quimper, France: Doubles (quarterfinals): Anirudh Chandrasekar & Arjun Kadhe bt Albano Olivetti (Fra) & Hunter Reese (USA) 6-3, 1-6, [10-7].
$25,000 ITF men, Al Zahra, Kuwait: Singles (quarterfinals): Prajnesh Gunneswaran bt Jakub Mensik (Cze) 6-2, 6-1. Doubles (semifinals): Dax Donders & Sidane Pontjodikromo (Ned) bt Parikshit Somani & Khumoyun Sultanov (Uzb) 6-4, 3-6, [10-4].
$15,000 ITF men, Jakarta, Indonesia: Singles (quarterfinals): Sidharth Rawat bt Wishaya Trongcharoenchaikul (Tha) 6-3, 6-4. Doubles (semifinals): Rithvik Bollipalli & Niki Poonacha bt Jang Yunseok & Shin Woobin (Kor) 6-4, 6-2.

-Kamesh Srinivasan


Sharma starts with 74 as weather forces Hero Dubai Desert Classic to Monday finish

Shubhankar Sharma, who had to wait for a full day to begin his campaign due to bad weather, couldn’t hold on to a fine start as he finished with a disappointing two-over 74 at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour here on Friday.

Sharma lost momentum after being two-under from three holes and will have to put in a lot of work to make the cut even as the organisers confirmed a Monday finish for the USD 9 million event.

The clubhouse lead was shared by two veteran Englishmen, the 49-year-old Richard Bland, who shot 67 in the first and opened the second with three straight birdies and eight-under after 22 holes. He was joined by the 47-year-old Ian Poulter, who after finishing his first round of 65, was one-under through three holes in the second.

Angel Hidalgo, 66, in first round was one-under through two holes in second, to be seven-under, while Louis de Jager, Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed were all at six-under. Only De Jager had played two holes in the second round.

Meanwhile, the loss of six hours and five minutes on the first day was further followed by the loss of three hours before start on Friday and an early stop due to threat of lightning meant a little less than nine hours have been lost.

This has forced play to be carried on to the fifth day with the third round likely to be a one-tee start and the fourth and final round is likely to be a two-tee start to keep a buffer and to guarantee against a possible play-off.

Only 12 players had finished their first round on Thursday and when play was called off on Friday earlier than scheduled due to thundery showers, the second round was barely two hours gone and no player had reached the turn.

Sharma, coming into the event on the back of a superb Top-7 finish in Abu Dhabi, opened strongly with a birdie on the first and third but dropped back-to-back bogeys on fifth and sixth and turned in even par.

A birdie to start the back nine raised hopes only to be dashed by frequent visits to the bunkers and he dropped a shot each on 12th, 14th and 17th.

It was not the best days with the irons for Sharma as he did not get close looks at birdies often enough. But within 30 minutes of finishing his first round, Sharma was back at the tenth tee to start the second round and he began with a birdie to raise hopes of a better round.

He was now one-over through 21 holes with the cut currently projected at 1-under.

When the first round finally ended late in the afternoon on Friday, the lead was being shared by the 23-year-old World Amateur No. Ludvig Aberg of Sweden and the 47-year-old English veteran Ian Poulter, both of whom shot 65 each.

Meanwhile in the morning, Rory McIlroy coming back to play his remaining three holes from the first round, finished birdie-eagle-birdie for a card of 6-under 66.

He was joined by Patrick Reed, 24-year-old Spaniard Angel Hidalgo and the 32-year-old South African Louis de Jager.

Just as McIlroy was closing his fine run, Reed had an eagle on 18th almost at the same time as the World no. 1 had a closing birdie on ninth on the double green.


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