When IITM embarked on its quest at the Inter-IIT Sports Meet 2013 at IIT Guwahati, it was with high hopes and dreams of winning the General Championship. The men’s contingent, especially, was riding on a wave of confidence from Madras’ double victory in inter-IIT Aquatics held earlier in the semester. But as the tournament progressed, there was plenty of uncertainty along the way. A good start in most sports led to our teams’ qualifying to many quarterfinals, but from then on the journey was not so smooth, and we faced many disappointing exits. The men’s team, however, staged an enthralling comeback to finish as runners-up in the Men’s GC, with gold medals in TT and hockey, third place overall in athletics and third place in weightlifting. While the women of IITM didn’t win the GC, they fared better than last year, moving up to fourth position from last year’s seventh. In this report, Raghavi, Ranjani, Nirmal and Rajaram write about IITM’s run in the various sports at the tournament.
The football team set high expectations after two consecutive wins on the first two days, in high-octane games against Guwahati and Bombay, the latter a much-anticipated clash. The two victories ensured that IITM qualified to the quarter-finals and this probably led to complacency in the third game against Kharagpur, who handed IIT-M a thrashing (0-2). This set up a nail-biting contest in the quarters against Delhi, in which IIT-M quickly went behind to a shock decision by the referee. The game was played in Delhi’s half with IITM testing the defence over and over again, and the equaliser came in the dying moments, setting up a nervous penalty shoot-out. Unfortunately, we went down 4-5 after eight penalties, and Delhi went on to win gold in football.
IITM’s hockey team was at its impressive best, notching up yet another gold in Guwahati. The league matches saw a controversial 1-0 win against Roorkee, with an own-goal which was allowed by the officials and later challenged by the Roorkee coach and players. The goal stood and the win was IITM’s. Next in line was IIT-BHU, a relatively unknown team since this was its first Inter-IIT. A comprehensive 3-1 victory ensued and IIT-M fast-tracked to the semi-finals. In the semis, we went comfortably past Delhi 1-0 to set up a final against Kanpur, and subsequently demolished them 3-1.
The weightlifting team put in an amazing performance to clinch the bronze on their last day. Veerendra placed 3rd in the under-69 kg category with a best Snatch of 77 kg and a huge 93 kg in Clean and Jerk to seal bronze. In the under-62 kg category, Sai Prakash placed fourth with best lifts of 65 kg and 80 kg in Snatch and Clean and Jerk respectively. Finally, Manoj, the captain, had an outstanding lift of 91 kg in his Snatch, backed up by a monumental 127 kg Clean and Jerk, which won him gold, thereby clinching the bronze for IIT-M.
The men’s badminton team put up a fair show at the meet, winning most of their matches with ease, in straight games. Digvijay Bhandari (captain) and Soham Parikh alternated the first two singles while Krishnakanth and Nitish Reddy formed a formidable doubles pair. Hari Pavan, the fifth player, took over if necessary. They faced a disappointing exit in the semifinal, largely due to injuries to two of the players, which forced them to move away from their usual playing order. They put up a commendable fight even in their third-place match, although they lost to Kharagpur. Standing out in all their matches was fresher Soham, who won all of his games in straight sets, often confining his opponents to single digit scores (versus 21). With such exciting new talent and the prospect of a fitter team, they hope for a much better performance next year.
The women’s badminton team, consisting of Sai Lahari (captain), Shruti Gadge and Ranjani Srinivasan, ended up with a quarters exit this time around, although they were the defending champions. The team’s pool matches, which pitted them against inexperienced new IITs, were smooth sailing, and the real test started in the quarters against Roorkee. A lack of coordination and communication hurt us, and attacking easily apparent weaknesses in our team, Roorkee closed the game in their favour, although it was nail-bitingly close until the end, with the last set actually going on to an extension. Singles was a fair fight but this too ended in disappointment. Practice and perseverance are the only way forward for this team.
The women’s tennis team consisting of Ankitha, Srishtika and Monisha won an enviable silver in this year’s meet, a big leap compared to last year’s league exit. A noticeable improvement from last year was a consistent doubles partner for Ankitha in Srishtika. Ankitha has been known to be a strong hand, but the support she received from her team-mates made a big difference in the fortunes of the team. Overall, the team is happy about the tremendous improvement in their skills, thanks to their coach, and their focus now is on improving their fitness to clinch that gold that just eluded them.
The men’s tennis team faced a quarterfinals exit, but the deciding match against Kharagpur was very close (IITM lost by two points). The team had two strong singles players in Karthik (captain) and Shankar, both with their unique styles — the former a consistent player, the latter a hard hitter. Rohit, their third player specialises in doubles with booming serves and forehands. Their fourth player Naveen is known for his consistency. Fitness is area to focus on, for them, apart from a lot more match-practice. This would help them learn to handle crucial points to convert their hard work to success at future meets.
In the recent history of basketball at Inter-IIT, either our men’s’ or women’s team has always gone on to win the championship. This time too, while the Men’s team sadly exited at the Quarters stage, the Women’s team went on to win silver.
After topping the pool comprising of Madras, BHU, Hyderabad , Jodhpur with ease,( except one close match, Madras 41-37 Varanasi), the men’s team lost to Bombay 46-48 in a closely-contested quarterfinals . This particular quarterfinal was a nail-bitingly close one. At one point in the game, there were so many fouls on Bombay’s players that we were awarded 8 free throws in succession. But a failure to convert even one of them ended up in a lost opportunity to build a crucial lead. Bombay later equalised the scores and went on to make 2 additional points in the last 10 seconds.
The women’s basketball team also topped their league, comprising Madras, Delhi, BHU and Mandi, with huge margins (Madras 42-10 BHU, Madras 33-15 Delhi, and walkover against Mandi). Topping the pool of last year’s runners-up (Delhi) gave Madras a direct entry to the semi-finals. In semi-finals too, Madras outclassed Guwahati 38-22 on their home court. In the finals, IITM met the defending champions, Roorkee, and lost 39-41 to them. However, the final match was controversial owing to its refereeing. The referees called 19 fouls on the Madras team as compared to 1 on the Roorkee team — numbers that are unlikely, given the earlier performances of these teams. The issue was raised at the Sports Board and the referees were called for a hearing. However, the results remained unchanged.
In both the teams, postgraduate freshers, Akash, Veena, and Nithila, contributed greatly to the teams’ wins.
Men’s TT has been a forte of IIT Madras, with players of state and national level stature. With the exception of bronze last year, we have had six consecutive golds in Men’s TT. This year again we clinched the gold, defeating Bombay in the finals. Although the league stage matches were easy, the team strategically came second behind BHU in their pool to avoid a tough fight in the quarters. Consequently, they met Indore in quarters and beat them in straight games. Semifinals against Kharagpur were slightly tougher, but we won 3-1. In the finals, we went on to beat Bombay 3-2.The pressure on the Madras team to win the finals was immense, given its deciding nature on the GC (By the time of TT finals, we had secured our only gold in Hockey and were losing in Badminton 3rd place playoffs). After 4 games, the scores were tied at 2-2. Amidst all the nervousness and anxiety, the last and deciding game was played by Gopalakrishna(NF), who calmly led us to victory. The finals saw really impressive performances and comebacks on both sides.
The women’s TT team surpassed expectations, securing 4th place. A relatively new team, with two out of three members playing for the first time, they managed to beat some good teams — Kharagpur and Hyderabad in the leagues, and Delhi in the quarters. In the semifinals, though, they lost to Roorkee in the first match and then Kanpur in bronze play-offs. Overall, the young team rose to the occasion and contributed two points towards the Women’s GC tally.
In squash, we began with a victory of 2-1 over the home team, Guwahati. The next league match, played against Delhi, also followed suit with 2-0. Topping its pool, the team faced Bombay in quarterfinals. In the earlier matches, Sanchit (captain) and Anuj usually won their respective singles, and settled the victory for Madras. However, in the quarter finals, the team’s ordering strategy failed as the team lost the first two singles, before Sanchit even played. The absence of an important player, Rahul D’Cunha, was a big handicap to the team, which usually bags medals. Fresher Anuj still fared very well and is likely to be an asset to the team in the future.
The cricket team entered the tournament as one of the favourites, being the runners up of the last year’s edition. Their outing started on a positive note, with a comprehensive victory over Gandhinagar, posting 161/7 and getting Gandhinagar all out for 118, with 5 balls to spare. The second match, however, proved to be a more challenging hurdle, with Kharagpur beating Madras by 10 runs. Madras were, hence, faced with a must-win game against Hyderabad. Madras triumphed over Hyderabad in the low scoring encounter, chasing 87 with ease, and going through to the quarter finals. The quarter-finals proved to be their final match of the tour, as BHU beat Madras. However, the team put up a spirited performance on the field and gave a tough fight to the semi-finalists. Though the campaign ended unsuccessfully, the captain, Siddharth Jain, received a lot of praise for his consistent performances and for leading a relatively inexperienced team to the quarterfinals.
In athletics, the men’s contingent had a healthy tally of medals to take away from the tournament, as the sports secretary, Mithun Joy, led the points tally from the front. He bagged the gold in Triple Jump, and silver in Long Jump. Bipin and Rahul Kass placed 2nd and 5th in the 110m hurdles respectively, while Anil took home the bronze medal in Pole Vault. Bipin also placed third in Triple Jump and 4th in High Jump, while the captain, Praveen, secured silver in 100m and bronze in 200 m The real highlight of the tournament was IIT Madras’s record-breaking run in the 4*100 m relay. The team comprising of Mithun, Praveen, Robin and Bipin placed first in the event, with a record time of 44.1 seconds. The previous highest was at 45.3 seconds in 1969. We placed overall second in athletics,summing up a fruitful year for the contingent
On the other hand, IITM’s female athletes fared poorly. They qualified through heats only in 100m, 200m, 800m and 4*100 m relay track events. The 4*100m relay team went on to the finals but failed to secure any position. In fact, the only medal that came our way was a bronze in shotput secured by Nithila. The problem of a substandard athletics team has been plaguing the women’s contingent for a long time now. In contrast to other IIT’s which bring more than 10 women athletes, we have a mere 4 members and sometimes, girls are drawn from other sports. To have any hope of regaining the Womens’ GC,it is imperative that we revive our Athletics team, by expanding the team and training it better.
IIT Madras has always had a brilliant history in men’s volleyball in Inter-IITs. Being the defending champions, the team entered the tournament as one of the strongest in the pool. But a match against Guwahati proved to be an uneventful outing for the men.The team further lost in straight sets to Kanpur, which meant that even an easy victory against Ropar was not enough to see them past the group stages into the quarterfinals.
The women’s volleyball team won a bronze the first time volleyball was introduced in Inter-IIT in 2011, but have failed to keep up the same momentum since. This year, they qualified to quarterfinals but didn’t proceed to the semis.The straight-sets defeat to Bombay in their very first match was demoralising, but they later notched wins against Guwahati and Jodhpur. In fact, the highest point of their campaign was the comprehensive victory over the home team – beating them in straight sets. However, a 3-1 defeat to Roorkee in a five-setter in the quarter finals foiled their chances of making it to the semis, and Roorkee went ahead to win the silver.
At the end of the tournament, IITM’s men clinched the runners’-up trophy while the women secured fourth place in their GC. Kanpur and Roorkee took home the Men’s and Women’s GC respectively.
On a concluding note, Mithun, the Institute Sports Secretary, said, “Thanks to the Aquatics, Hockey, TT, Athletics, Weightlifting and Badminton teams. Despite the slim chance after the doomed quarter finals day, we fought hard and gained respect. Though we couldn’t get GC back home for the 20th time, we made it count until the very last day, finishing IInd overall just 3.5 points behind Kanpur. I am very proud to be part of the legendary IIT Madras Contingent, 19-time winner of the GC.”