by Nirmal L and Raghavi Kodati
“Three cheers for IITM!” The courts resounded with praise for the host college as Sports Fest drew to a close on the 30th September. With 23 colleges from around the city, the games indeed brought about a festive mood to sports in insti and, of course, much needed exposure and a confidence boost for Inter-IIT. With almost all the teams clinching a medal, there seem to be good bodings for the Inter-IIT General Championship.
In badminton (Women’s), competing colleges included Stella Maris, Ethayaraja College and VIT Chennai, besides a new addition, NIFT. IITM’s team breezed through its matches against all teams other than defending champions, Stella Maris – against whom they lost in disappointing straight sets. Thus the host team got silver, and Stella Maris won gold for the second time in a row. Chethana Rao and Ranjani Srinivasan, both new to the team, contributed greatly to the overall performance. In the men’s draw, IITM-B team won a silver medal (the usual classification of A and B not being valid here) despite the fact that two senior players, Digvijay and Nitish, did not play owing to injuries. IITM-A’s defeat was also a pretty close one with a score of 3-1 where the 3 losses were all 3 setters.
IIT-M’s basketball (Women’s) team secured bronze again this year. Defeating NIFT with a whopping score of 57-5 in the knock-out stage, the team lost to WCC and Stella Maris in the league stage by 51-40 and 55-30 respectively. The match with WCC was neck-to-neck until a few fouls by IITM in the last quarter that gave WCC a lead of 11 points, leaving IITM no time to recover. Stella Maris, however, was undoubtedly the champion in their match. Post player Sharanya, Prakruthi and Veena contributed the most to the scoreboard. Veena, who is a Ph.D in the Humanities department and a former Kerala state player promises to be a huge asset to the team this year.
After gruelling competition IITM emerged as winners, retaining their crown at the top of the tree in cricket this year. IITM were standout performers, with dominating victories against every team they faced, winning the semi-finals (20-over game) by 65 runs and the finals (30-over game) by 100 runs. Skipper Siddharth says, “The victory was an all-round team effort but we saw some brilliant individual performances.” Notable performances were Shubham Atram scoring 61 (47 balls), Sagar Amminbhavi (3-0-16-3), Aashish Lodhwal (3-0-18-3) and Mahesh Meena (3-1-4-0) all in the semi-finals. The finals saw Tirth Shah rise to the occasion with an superb all-round performance (44 with the bat and a five-wicket haul with the ball).
The IIT-M football team broke a four-year Sportsfest jinx by staging a near impossible comeback to take gold in a closely fought final. The B-team impressed immensely; however, they couldn’t make it to the league stage, bowing out to Gurunanak College in the second round. The A-team, having received a bye on the first round, romped into the league stages with a convincing 2-0 win in their first game. The following match saw a shocking display of errors, leading to a 3-0 defeat against Gurunanak College. They recovered quickly to beat SSN College 2-0 and rounded off the Sportsfest with a resounding 2-0 win against Thyagaraya College. Outstanding performances from Tiyash, in yet another penalty shootout, Rishab, stalwart of the defence and Clement for unbelievable energy on the field were the major positives from Sportsfest-2013.
Both the hockey teams (A&B) had good outings this year. They made it to the league stages, beating Veterinary College and Sai Ram College respectively. IIT-M A-team cruised through the league beating VIT M 6-0, Gurunank College 3-0 and holding Sports University to a 0-0 draw to seal the Gold medal. Solid performances from Dhruv (Package) and Makade (Mayank) with a strong defence lead by skipper, Bala, were among the reasons for the exceptional performance. However, the highlight of Sportsfest was a thrilling game between IIT-M (B) & VIT, which finished 3-4. Down 0-3 at half-time, IIT-M (B) clawed their way back into the game equalising to 3-3. But the game was stolen in the dying moments by VIT who sealed it with a last-gasp strike.
The first edition of squash in Sportsfest saw 5 colleges competing for the trophy. With a relatively low level of competition, IITM bagged gold effortlessly. Also, with a team stronger than last year’s, final years Sanchit Mehta and Rahul Dcunha are quite confident of winning Gold at Inter-IIT-2013.
In table tennis, the relatively new women’s team had some difficulty playing against colleges like SSN and Stella Maris who had players of national stature. Meghana, the TT captain, remains optimistic and adds, “The potential of the new players (Ashwini R, Subarna) is immense, and they have a lot of learning, besides a bronze medal, to take home!” IITM-Men fielded three teams in TT this year, out of which IITM-A secured silver and IITM-B secured bronze. “IITM-A could have performed better,” says the captain, Chinmay Sonavane, pointing out the problem that most final years’ in the Inter-IIT contingent face – a busy schedule and inability to make it to regular practice. He sounds confident though, of making it to Gold in Inter-IIT.
The women’s tennis team, although the defending champions, bagged only the bronze medal this year as there was hefty competition from Stella Maris, Ethiraj and SSN. But a great show was put up by the Freshies Srishtika (MA), Ramya (M.Tech), Monisha (M.Tech). The match against Ethiraj was quite a fierce battle where Ankitha went down fighting with the score of 5-7. Having said that, the prospects of a medal this Inter-IIT look good. On the men’s side, IIT-M fielded three teams. The C-team which comprised of freshies surprised everyone with a wonderful performance. Vivek, Athul and Suraj played some high-quality tennis but couldn’t progress. The B-team disappointed and couldn’t make it to the final stage. The A-team with a relatively easy draw beat VIT (8-2, 8-0) and beat Sai Ram College in a thriller with Shankar turning the game in the reverse-singles fixture. SSN beat IIT-M A team and rightly deserved a spot in the finals. However, IIT-M A managed to place a Bronze.
IIT-M’s volley (Women’s) team also finished second in the tournament. Making their way past MA Chidambaram College of Nursing and MVM Senior Secondary school in straight sets, they lost to B.S Mootha Senior Secondary School 0-2 in the finals. The second match against MVM Senior Secondary school was a particularly close win, with IITM taking the lead in the first set with only 27-25. Srividya’s serves and the good coordination among team members contributed to the win.
Both the volley and basketball men’s teams couldn’t make it past the knock-outs this time as they lost 2-3 to Bharat Institute of Technology and 34-53 to DG Vaishnav respectively . Absence of players like DC and Akshay in volley, Vadivu, Vishnu and Vivek in basketball evidently dented the composition of the team. However, both the teams are confident of continuing their winning streak at Inter-IIT with the promise of couple of good postgraduate players.
The weightlifters put up another outstanding performance this year, finishing second behind Velammal Engineering College (runners-up last year). Chinmay and Manoj secured Silver medals while Shintre added a bronze. Shubam, Richie and Rajat were the notable performers from the B-team who just missed the podium. The IIT-M A-team was edged out by the lifters from Velammal, who were excellent, having secured 2 gold medals and 3 silver medals.
The major positive this time is the increased participation of postgraduates, which has led to a visibly augmented interaction both on and off the field.
When asked for his opinion on Sportsfest 2013, Mithun Joy Cherayil, Sports Secretary of IIT-M, had this to say, “A lot of credit has to go to our P.T.I, Mr. Raavanan, who was the energy behind the success. The best thing about the Sportsfest is that it gives the players immense exposure to the great talent outside the Institute. It also offers a great practice session seeing as it is the only tournament before Inter-IIT. It helps bring the team together and build a network with many of the other colleges who can then be called for practice matches on a regular basis as required.” When asked about the Inter-IIT GC, he smiles, “The Aquatics-Meet gave you a preview of how fiercely competitive we will be this December.”