The aquatics meet kicked off on Sunday with the events beginning at 7:30 am. The teams were all raring to go and enthusiasm was at its peak.
For the swimming heats and time trials held in the morning, Madras and Bombay dominated throughout. In the 400 meter freestyle time trials, the timings were far from the inter IIT record set by Akshay Krishna. Aditya from Delhi, Anirban from Madras and Arijit from Bombay finished first, second and third. Kanpur lad Anant Vats finished 4th and got his team one point to open the scoring for Kanpur.
In the 50 meter women’s backstroke heat, Delhi came agonizingly close to Madras with a time gap of less than a second. In the 200 meter men’s backstroke, Nikhil Mohan of Roorkee was disqualified for a false start and had his hopes crashed early.
The most interesting event of the morning was 4X100 meter men’s freestyle relay. The Madras team consisting of CK Ananda, Anirban, Raghav and Vishal maintained a colossal lead in the first two laps but Abhishek, Arijit,Tarun and Samarth from Bombay fought back bravely to lose just by a few strokes. It is only befitting that a match as close as this deserves a place in the history books. Madras made a new meet record of 4:25:47. Bombay stood second and Delhi comprising of Dhriti, Gaurav, Yash, Aditya secured third.
In the evening, the finals for the heat events were conducted. The 50 meter backstroke women’s final was closely contested initially between Gayathri of Madras and Bhakti from Delhi. With the progression of the event though, Gayathri developed a handsome lead. Vrittika from Delhi finished behind Bhakti and secured third.
The 100 meter men’s backstroke finals had two Kanpur lads Poonkundran and Anil Rulaniya competing for glory. They both managed podium finishes with the final standings being Siraj Modiwala from Kharagpur striking gold and Poonkundran and Rulaniya finishing second and third respectively.
In the 200 meter breaststroke finals, Manthan Sit was the only Kanpuriya featuring in the lineup and secured 1 point by finishing fourth. Manthan had managed to surpass both Sriram and Sanjay from Madras but lost the lead as both of them finished second and third with Ashwin from Bombay finishing first with a healthy lead that he took from the start.
The 50 meter breaststroke finals saw huge cheers for Kamala from Madras who was the favourite. She didn’t disappoint and beat the rest convincingly. Pooja Yadav who was representing Kanpur finished eighth.
The water polo matches were held after the morning session and then late in the evening. Delhi had to unfortunately face two strong opponents, Kanpur and Kharagpur on the same day. To say that the matches were a treat to watch, is an understatement.
Kharagpur took on Delhi in the morning at 11 am. It was a strong show for KGP as they thumped Delhi by 12-0. Though Delhi created many chances, they could not convert any of them into goals. Aman Kharb, Siraj Modiwala, Pradeep Garewal, Abhishek Dahiya scored 3 goals apiece for Kgp. This must have had an impact on the Delhi morale and their second match held in the evening.
The second match, fought between Madras and Bombay was a tight one. After the first two quarters, Bombay led Madras by 3-2. But Madras bounced back strongly to win the third quarter; scoring 3 goals. They never looked back from there and eventually went on to win 7-4. Adit scored one and Anand scored two for Madras. Their star player, though, was Sanjay, who scored 4 goals but was injured in the last quarter. We hope he recovers before Madras’s next match tomorrow morning.
The third water polo match followed suit of the second one. It was end to end action as both teams scored regularly and there was nothing much to separate them. The scores were tied 4 all till the last quarter when Roorkee managed to pull away and finally win 6-4. Jose scored 4 times and Kunal and Maharnab scored a goal each for Roorkee. It must have been frustrating for Guwahati, to lose at the very end after a good showing throughout.
The last match of the day was between Kanpur and Delhi. Kanpur butchered Delhi 18-2. The Delhites looked clueless even as they created chances but failed to get past the Kanpur goalkeeper, Arshil Abbas. In the fourth quarter, Delhi’s Abhishek committed a foul and was sent off permanently; but the game was all but over by then. Raghav emerged as the star player with a preposterous number of 8 goals. Vihang and Vasu also scored 5 goals apiece for Kanpur.
With this loss, Delhi crashes out of the Water Polo event and the picture of Pool A becomes clear. Kanpur and Kharagpur both make it into the semifinals.
The matches for the coming days promise unbridled excitement and lots of fun. Best of luck to all the teams for the rest of the meet.
Correction: Nikhil Mohan was a participant in the 200 meter men’s breaststroke and not backstroke. Also, Nikhil Mohan and not Kunal scored for Rorkee in the water polo match between Rorkee and Guwahati.