Day 2 of the 32nd Aquatics Meet, held at IIT Kanpur, followed the example of the inaugural one. Madras and Bombay’s dominant streak continued as they took away the podium finishes in most of the races. Delhi and Kharagpur managed to take a piece of the pie too.
The winner from Madras, Anirban Nag, maintained a colossal lead in the first 10 laps of the 1500m Freestyle but Delhi’s Aditya Kotiya fought back courageously but was unable to catch up. Bombay’s Arijit came third in this exhausting event.
Kanpur’s performance in the swimming events was lukewarm on day 2 with Manthan Sit coming in at the 5th position in the 100m breaststroke event. Bombay’s Ashwin Kanhare picked up Gold while Madras boys Anuj and Sriram bagged Silver and Bronze respectively. Anant Vats came 6th in his event, the Men’s 50m Butterfly. In this short race, it was Delhi’s Dhritiraj and Yash who took home both the Gold and the Silver. Maharnab Mitra of Roorkee came in third.
In the 200m Freestyle, Madras’s Ananda Krishnan scored the first position, closely followed by Bombay’s Samarth and Delhi’s Aditya. Homeboy Ishank Modi, floundered a good start, as he finished 6th.
The only event for women today, the 50m Butterfly saw Delhi’s Bhakti take the Gold that she had fought so hard for yesterday. Prutha of KGP stood second and Bombay’s Kavya finished third.
The drama though, was reserved for the water polo matches. The first match was a one sided affair. Madras won 7-1. Throughout, Guwahati searched for the net; finding it only in the last quarter. Madras produced a clinical performance; scoring their first goal within the first minute. The pace slowed thereafter as the midmorning heat took its toll. There was a controversial moment when Guwahati’s Ajay got injured and claimed that he was kicked underwater. He may have sustained a fracture and we wish him a speedy recovery. C.K. Anand scored 4 goals, Adit scored 2 and Sriram found the net once for Madras.
The second match seemed to be going for a close finish when after the first half, Roorkee led Bombay by 3-2. But thereon, Bombay stepped on the accelerator by playing an attacking game; even the goalkeeper came forward occasionally. They reaped rewards for their courageous play, scoring 7 goals in the last half. The final scoreline read 9-4 in favour of them. Abhishek Shende scored 6 goals for Bombay; Abhas scored two and Ashwin netted one. This match left Pool B in a precarious situation, as both Bombay and Roorkee had won once. The last match of the day, however, made matters clear.
Kanpur vs Kharagpur; the clash of the titans, as it was termed by some, proved to be just that! We witnessed the first draw of the tournament as the final scores read 8-8. Both teams went neck to neck, the ferocity of the attack matched only by the veracity of the defence. Kharagpur trailed by a goal till the last quarter but they drew level, finally. Siraj scored 5 for them while Vihang found the net 4 times for Kanpur.
As a result of this draw, Kanpur topped Pool A on goal difference; much to the satisfaction of the capus junta who had turned up to watch the game.
The last match of the day was important for Bombay as they needed to win to remain with a good chance of qualifying. They did just that; beating Guwahati, for whom the match was inconsequential but important to save face. Guwahati did well in the first half drawing level 4-4, but as has been the story this tournament, the 3rd quarter proved to be all important. Bombay scored 3 goals; maintaining a strict defence that did not allow Guwahati to score. The final scores were 8-4 to Bombay. Abhishek Shende scored 6 (again!) while Kedar and Ashwin scored once for Bombay.
This guarantees them a SF spot. Madras had already qualified. If Roorkee beats them by a goal difference of greater than 9; only then can they qualify. And with the form Madras is in, it seems unlikely.
It was undoubtedly an exciting day, and as we head towards the finals of the water polo matches, tomorrow, can only be better.