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Lawn bowl camp in Ranchi

Jharkhand lawn bowlers will enjoy home advantage at the selections for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, as Bowling Federation of India has chosen Namkum-based RK Anand Lawn Bowls Green as venue for the first phase of the national camp from February 2 to 21.

Officials of Jharkhand Olympic Association said this was the first time that the state would host the national team selection camp for an event as big as Commonwealth Games.

“It’s matter of pride for Jharkhand as bowlers will compete for berths in Indian contingent in Ranchi under the aegis of our experts,” said Jharkhand Olympic Association general secretary S.M. Hashmi.

Nearly 24 ace bowlers, both men and women, from across the country have been selected for the camp based on their performances in recent tourneys. Of this, nine hail from Jharkhand.

The state contingent boasts Asian Games gold medallist Sunil Bahadur, Asia Pacific gold medallists Dinesh Kumar and Lovely Choubey and National Games gold medallist Farzana Khan, among others.

According to national lawn bowl coach Madhukant Pathak, who would be training players for Commonwealth Games, a majority of players in list of 24 probables hail from Jharkhand.

Pathak said starting from February, national camp will be held in three or four phases to cherrypick 12 players (six men and as many women) who will represent India at Commonwealth Games, scheduled at Glasgow from July 23-August 3.

“The second phase is scheduled to start towards the end of February in Delhi. But, depending upon progress of the first camp, it might be shifted to Ranchi too,” he said, adding that dates for remaining camps were yet to be notified.

Pathak explained that Ranchi was preferred over other venues owing to Jharkhand’s stellar performance at lawn bowling and state-of-art facilities constructed prior to 34th National Games in Ranchi.

The national coach pointed out that selection would not be easy, as they would need to keep in mind conditions in Glasgow.

Notably, the Scotland venue would have grass turf, unlike synthetic surfaces Indian bowlers are used to.

“This was the reason we (Jharkhand) participated in the recently held national meet in Calcutta last month so that our players get exposure to grass turf. Our performance wasn’t great compared to past events, but we still managed to win five silver medals,” said Pathak, who also happens to be the secretary of state lawn bowling association.

However, Pathak added, Ranchi’s conditions would suit better for preparing players for the Glasgow event.

“In Glasgow, grass speed will be 14.5 seconds. While the Calcutta track offers speed of 10 seconds, the speed is 15 seconds on Ranchi grounds. There is a slight difference between Ranchi and Glasgow tracks and it won’t be difficult for players to adjust,” said Pathak.

Pathak also had a message for Jharkhand lawn bowlers.

“Technically, Jharkhand players are very sound compared to their counterparts from other states. But, playing on grass track is a different game all together. So, selection will be purely based on merit. Skills, physical fitness, mental toughness and other aspects will also be taken into consideration,” he said.