The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mouma cruises into next round
- Pugilists keep hopes alive
- Setback in sepak takraw

Doha: India might have already kissed the table tennis team events good bye, but for Bengal girl Mouma Das, it proved to be a fine morning on the opening day of the individual events on Saturday.

Mouma entered the round of 32 in the women’s singles by defeating Macau’s Mao Chan In in four straight games. It was quite a convincing victory as Mouma won 11-5, 11-4, 11-4, 11-7.

For clearing the sepak takraw squad, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had a running battle with the ministry of youth affairs and sports on the eve of the Asian Games. While the government refused to pay the cost of the team’s visit, the IOA went ahead to clear the deck of its participation at its own expense.

How right the government’s decision about the sepak takraw team was proved on Saturday when India succumbed to a miserable defeat against Malaysia in their opening match.

The completely one-sided encounter at the Al sadd Indoor Hall was a clear indication that IOA shouldn’t have allowed the national teams of such minor sport to play in the international arena.

But then, sepak takraw was not the only sport where India bit the dust on Day II of the Games. While shooters brought India’s first two medals, India reached its nadir in artistic gymnastics. The four-member India squad — pitted against mighty rivals like China and Japan, made a mockery of the competition by finishing seventh.

Things, however, was not as bad in kabaddi and boxing. Kabaddi is one sport where India has never lost the gold medal since it has been introduced in the Beijing Asian Games in 1990.

Pitted against Bangladesh on Saturday, the Indian men managed to pull through with 21-16 victory. Later, they had it easy against Japan, winning 44-25. It, however, failed to generate interest even among the members of the Indian contingent, most of whom thronged the shooting ranges in anticipation of a great Indian show.

Their dream never came true, at least on the opening day. But for the Indian pugilists, it was a successful evening at the Aspire Centre. While in 54kg, India’s Akhil Kumar scored a convincing 36-16 victory over Jordan’s Ibrahim Al-Gharaghir, Jitender Kumar outclassed North Korea’s Ju Kwak Hyok 21-7 in the 51kg qualifiers.

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