Citius, Altius, Fortius…

The preparations are on in full swing for the 48th Inter IIT Sports Meet to be held in Roorkee. The Kharagpur contingent has just about a month’s time left to improve its rather dismal performance in recent years, where Madras and Bombay have stolen all the limelight. TSA caught up with the coaches and captains of various sports to know where we stand. Here is what we found out:

 

TENNIS

The Team:

The unfortunate departure of the coach has been a tough pill to swallow for the team and the practice sessions are not in full swing. The dampened spirit of the players was evident when one of the teams crashed in the group stage in Shaurya-2012. The men’s team is the same as last year’s which had emerged as the dark horse of the tournament reaching the quarterfinals. It has better co-ordination this time around with the much required practice from Shaurya. The women’s team, on the other hand, is all set for hat-trick gold with mighty players like Mallika Saharia, a tournament favourite, and Pranati, a promising first year.

The Competition:
Being in the same pool as Kanpur might pose some threat considering the close defeat last year, but the men’s team should find no difficulty in going past Guwahati and Mandi. With Madras, home team Roorkee & last year’s champion Bombay as the strongest competitors, the challenge toughens from the quarterfinal stage.

The women’s team has got a relatively easier pool to contend with and should waltz into the semi-finals considering their excellent performance last year. Roorkee and Bombay are the only teams offering some real competition.

TSA Predicts:
Men – Quarterfinals
Women – Gold

 

BASKETBALL

The Team:
The team is high on morale having emerged as the overall winner at Sharuya-2012. An experienced lot (something it lacked in the past few years), this bunch is a potential finalist, with their USP being defence. The team has all the players from last year’s bronze-winning squad, but would look to work on improving their ‘drive to basket’ technique and not conceding free throws.
The women’s contingent is on a rigorous practice regime to fight for the title, closely missed last year. With most of the players being first-timers, lack of experience and dependence on individual expertise of Ishita & Sumaina might turn out to be a major setback.

The Competition:
With a relatively easy pool, the men’s team is expected to breeze through the group matches and meet Delhi in the quarterfinals.

Photo Credits: Kaustubh Khare

A win against Delhi could propel KGP to a match against Madras, the defending champions and a very tough        team to beat. A defeat, on the other hand, would lead to a match against a relatively weak Bombay with three  of their key players gone. But team KGP will surely look to win all their matches en route to the finals.

Given the current shortcomings of the women’s team and poor performance in Shaurya-2012, being in the same pool as Madras & Kanpur might lead to group-stage elimination.

TSA Predicts:
Men – Silver
Women – Group stage elimination

 

BADMINTON

The Team:
Targeting the gold medal this year and unwilling to settle for anything less, the badminton team has been hard at work since the beginning of this semester with daily conditioning and court practice in the morning and evening respectively. The induction of three new players has added a neoteric dimension to the team.
Coaching sessions over the weekend have been aimed at improving team’s physical and mental fitness along with technique. A setback in the form of one of the main players facing a ligament tear during a practice match, has failed to dampen spirits and the team is all the more determined to cover up their loss. Shaurya too saw the team fighting hard in a very engaging match against national level players from SSN Chennai.

The Competition:
With a lot of strong players having graduated from their respective IITs, the competition would be a challenge to predict. However, Bombay and Kanpur are seen as strong contenders. The women’s team has Delhi and Bombay as tough competition.

TSA Predicts:
Men – Silver
Women – Bronze

 

VOLLEYBALL

The Team:
Coming off a loss in the finals last year, which was a nail biting 5-setter at home, the Inter IIT men’s volleyball team is raring to go and aiming for nothing less than gold. Having 2 final year players in the team, this is the last time the team will play together as one unit and they want to make this Inter IIT their most memorable and successful tournament. Brimming with confidence, Captain Nitheesh Ballal believes that the team’s current form, especially after the gold in Shaurya, is good enough to beat any team. A strict practice regimen which includes practice sessions in the morning (6 AM – 6:45AM) and the evening (6:30 PM – 8 PM), he believes, would ensure that the team is ready with the limited number of days left. Although placements are hampering the amount of time final years can devote to practice, the intensity of the sessions has increased with various crucial areas such as spiking being targeted. As for the women’s team, an influx of new talented players has given them hope of doing well after a below average performance in last year’s edition.

The Competition:
The biggest competition for the men’s team will be hosts Roorkee. The team is confident of a top 3 finish if worse comes to worst. The women, after crashing out in the group stages in last year’s edition, need to beat the likes of IIT Bombay and IIT Madras to win. But the coach gives us hope when he says “Yeh finalist ki team hai”.

TSA Predicts:
Men – Gold
Women – Quarterfinals

 

CRICKET

The Team:
The cricket team will have to pull something extraordinary out of the bag to repeat last year’s bronze-winning performance. With most of the players who represented Kharagpur in last year’s edition serving a ban, the team is very inexperienced with mostly first and second years. Whether this proves to be a blessing in disguise remains to be seen, although captain Kamal Singh remains confident. Bhavnish Kohli, who played a vital role in Shaurya, will again have to shoulder a major chunk of responsibility along with Anirudh. The presence of several all-rounders also adds to the balance of the team. More importantly, the team will also have a point to prove on why cricket is a gentleman’s game, and will look to play in the right spirit.

The Competition:
Kharagpur is in the same group as Rajasthan, Hyderabad and Gandhinagar where only Gandhinagar should prove to be of any significant challenge. From then on, however, the going gets really tough with Delhi and Madras looming in the quarter-finals.

TSA Predicts: Quarterfinalists

 

SQUASH

The Team:
Squash, rated by Forbes as the healthiest sport to play, is one sport in which KGP is confident of bagging a medal at the 48th Inter-IIT Sports Meet. The preparations are under-way under the guidance of a newly-appointed coach and the team is looking forward to bettering last year’s performance where they failed to qualify for the semis by a small margin.
The scenario this time seems to be very different. The whole squad is new, and what they lack in experience is more than made up by their level of motivation and commitment to the sport. Unlike last year where the team had zero match practice, the players have been playing a lot of matches. Open-IIT Squash was conducted for the first time and the competition level was good. Also, they have been playing mock games regularly and their cumulative performance will be the basis for selection. A friendly tournament in December is also on the list to ensure quality pre-event match practice.

The Competition:
It has been a pretty eventful year for the sport with a dull period in between when there wasn’t any coach and the court too was being repaired. Hurdles notwithstanding, the team has the potential to be the runners-up in the sports meet, being second only to IIT Roorkee and take the sport to a whole new level on campus, believes Anant Agarwal, a senior member of the team.

TSA Predicts: Bronze

 

FOOTBALL

The Team:

The football team has promised a lot for several years now, and failed to deliver. They will seek to change all that in this year’s edition of Inter IIT.On a high after bagging gold in Shaurya, the players have their focus set. Although a skewed up academic calendar has disrupted the rhythm to some extent, Coach Ardhendu Ghosh has managed to hold the team together. Plenty of practice matches have been planned in December to ensure the team plays as a cohesive unit in Roorkee.

Buoyed by the influx of new talent, the performance of the midfield will play a critical role in determining how far they go in Inter-IIT. With Shailesh and Baite combining well in the middle, captain Ravish should find plenty of opportunities to score up-front. Goalkeeper Harshvardhan Yadav kept four straight clean sheets in Shaurya, but Inter-IIT will be a much bigger challenge for him and the defence. The team will have to guard against injuries though, which proved to be the Achilles’ heel last time around.

The Competition:
Kharagpur has been pitted in the same group as Patna, Rajasthan and hosts Roorkee. Although it won’t be a cakewalk, they should clear the group stages with relative ease. In the quarterfinals they are likely to play Hyderabad or a depleted Kanpur side, with an enticing prospect of playing tournament favourites Delhi in semi-finals.

TSA Predicts: Bronze

 

HOCKEY

The Team:
Having been knocked out of the tournament in the group stage last year, the Hockey team is not taking any chances this time. The players have been practising 3 hours a day just to ensure last year’s outcome is not repeated. The ground, which was turned into a makeshift helipad for a dignitary last time and therefore unavailable for most of the period, was prepared very early as a precautionary measure. The coach too has stood by the team throughout, keeping the morale high which was evident in Shaurya, when they thrashed St. Xavier’s in the finals, turning the tournament into a lop-sided affair.

The Competition:
It will be a steep climb for the team, given the fact that they are pitted against the defending champions IIT Madras in the group stage and the squad too is relatively inexperienced. Despite this, Thirupathi Lunavath, a senior member, is hopeful of a good result citing the stricter and more disciplined practice schedule. Will the boys do a Chak De? Time will tell.
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TSA Predicts:
Bronze

 

ATHLETICS


The preparation for Inter-IIT Athletics has been going on for long , albeit in different forms. First, it was Shaurya which served the three-fold purpose of providing competitive practice, talent identification and revealing weaknesses. Inter-Hall Athletics, which will be over by the time this reaches you, is the second avenue. The fact that it is a fiercely fought competition, for reasons known to all, provides a much needed boost to the preparations, feels Vaibhav Jhonny, captain of the Inter-IIT Athletics Team (Men).

The Men’s Team:
The Men’s Athletics team will see some major changes this year. A number of athletes who represented Kharagpur last year have graduated paving way for newcomers who will go through rigorous training before the final team is chosen in the second week of December. The senior athletes, on the other hand, will be looking to erase all memories of the previous edition where they finished a shocking 5th after having bagged Gold the year before.

The Women’s Team:
The Women’s contingent, on the other hand, will be looking to go one better than last time where they finished second to IIT Roorkee by a point. As second year Dimple Kapadia says, they are in much better shape thanks to the consistent practice sessions and the prospect of two promising athletes joining the team means there’s less pressure on Sharmila Chaudhari and herself. The two factors combined point in the direction of Gold and that is what they’ll be looking for.

TSA Predicts:
Men – 4th place
Women – Gold

 

TABLE TENNIS

The Team:
“We will give our 100% and try our best to save our gold”, says Ranu Choudary, who is a part of last year’s gold winning table tennis women’s team. With their two strongest players, Chaoba Thounoujam (women’s team) and Prasan Kundu (men’s team) having graduated, there is a need for the team to change their game plan from earlier defensive techniques. “We are now working on strokes such as top spins, so as to be on the attacking side”, says Mansi Agrawal, a player on the team.

Rigorous practice sessions are conducted every Saturday with a coach being brought in from Calcutta. On the remaining days, the team can be found practicing for about two to three hours in the evenings. During Shaurya, the men’s team gave a tough fight to national level players from NIT Trichy, who went on to win the competition. The women’s team had to settle for Silver against an evidently stronger St.Xaviers.

The Competition:
Inter IIT men’s table tennis has borne witness to Madras securing gold for four consecutive years now. Other major competitors to Kharagpur include Delhi and Bombay. The women’s team will have to fight hard against Mandi and Bombay, if they want to win the Gold.

TSA Predicts:
Men – Bronze
Women – Silver

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