From Delhi University cricket captain to CWG 2022 lawn bowls gold medallist, Pinki says ‘we had to do it’ | Commonwealth Games 2022 News

NEW DELHI: Lead. Skip. Jack. Ends. Measuring box. The vocabulary of sports fans, even of certain experts, was put to the test at the start of the week. It is not usual to come across the above terms in sports in India as the country has barely kept up with the sport of ‘lawn balls‘ until three days ago. It was as if golfer Aditi Ashok woke India at 4 a.m. from Japan last August, forcing the country to google par, birdie, eagle, albatross, etc., when she found herself in the count for a medal at the Tokyo Olympics. She just missed a podium. But a quartet of Indian women on the bowling greens of Victoria Park during the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022 said to themselves: “Iss baar to karna hai” (you have to do it this time). And they won a historic gold medal.
India listened Rupa Rani Tirkey very carefully on the live broadcast. She is the ‘Skip’ of the Indian bowls team ‘Women’s Fours’, comprising Beautiful Choubey (Conduct), Pinkie (Second) and Nayanmoni Saikia (Third) like the other three members. This is the order in which they play. The “Skip” gets the last round of bowl.
Rupa the ‘Skip’, who is a Ranchi District Sports Officer, was teaching his teammates how to let go of the ball and which line to throw so that it spins and ends up closer to the ‘Jack’.
Watching a sport for the first time is like reading the credits scrolling on the screen: who is who and what is what?
The ‘Jack’ is a yellow ball. Players must throw (the balls) in such a way that they spin and roll closest to the jack. The team that has the most balls closer to the pallina than the opposing team gets the most points at the end of an “End”. The distance between the jack and the balls is measured by a device called a ‘measuring box’.
The credits roll again.
A “Fin” is synonymous with lawn bowling for a “round”. A ‘Women’s Fours’ match has 15 ends, in which each team member throws two balls per end. The other three formats are singles, pairs and triples.
Facing South Africa, finalists of the 2018 CWG Women’s Fours event, the Indian players had a heavy task to accomplish. The fact of having already obtained a historic medal by participating in the final can sometimes modify the orientation. But if Rupa’s lone shot in the semi-final against New Zealand was anything to behold, this Indian side were in with a good shout. Rupa’s lone attempt ended up having four Indian balls closer to the jack, earning India four points. This can happen by pushing the Jack away from the opponent’s clutch, so that more of your team’s balls end up closer to the Jack.
Very confident, Rupa spoke like a director during a film shoot, while Pinki, a physical education teacher at a school in Delhi, walked on the mat to play bowling.
“Idhar se fenkna to yahan se andar ghumega (dig it from this side so that it turns inward).” It was as if former Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni instructed his spinners. Incidentally, like Dhoni, Rupa is also from Ranchi.
The other two team members, Lovely, a police cop from Jharkhand, and Nayanmonia, a forest officer from Assam, watched patiently.
“The Skip is always near the jack,” Pinki said, in a phone conversation with from Birmingham. “She would know best which direction to play, what should be the speed, the weight, etc. So Rupa kept giving us instructions. The coordination between the four of us was very good.”
It’s time to play the credits again.
When the word ‘weight’ is mentioned, it is in relation to the balls that the players throw. It is a “biased ball”. Bias means it is asymmetrical in nature – one side is heavy and one side is light.
“The heavy side is always held towards the side where we want the ball to curve/turn after we throw it. The line matters, besides the weight we need to control,” Pinki explained to
Until the early 2000s, Pinki was literally playing “a different ball game” as the captain of the Delhi University cricket team.
“I joined the Delhi Public School (DPS) as a physical education teacher, after graduating from NIS (National Institute of Sports) Patiala in cricket because I played Rani Jhansi Trophy,” said the 42-year-old from Delhi. .
The Rani Jhansi Trophy is an elite women’s cricket tournament which is also one of the main routes to consider for the Indian team.
“I was captain of Delhi University team. When I joined DPS, the then manager Mr. DR Saini asked me to introduce lawn bowls because in 2007 when at my first National Games I had won a silver medal. That’s where that journey started,” Pinki said, without addressing the reasons why she chose not to continue playing cricket professionally.
Like his team members, Pinki has won several medals at the Asian Championships. “I won a medal in all the Asian bowls championships that took place from 2009 to 2018, including gold,” she said flatly.
But the Commonwealth Games had not been a happy hunting ground for the Indian. Pinki has competed in all three previous editions of the Games, but the Indian team has never quite looked like a medal contender, despite coming close on one odd occasion.
“The teams were also good in the past, but the luck factor didn’t favor us, sometimes the performance dropped, like we couldn’t finish in the last moments. We lacked the ‘how to finish’ department (games). But at the as we got more experience it taught us how to do it (win),” Pinki added.
Coming back empty-handed is never a good feeling. Without mentioning it specifically, Pinki, on a personal level, wanted to repay him the support and trust that his family had always shown him since his parents recognized his enthusiasm for the sport.
“It’s been three Commonwealth Games (without a medal) – 2010, 2014, 2018. We reach the quarters and semi-finals and then come back (empty-handed) from this stage. This time it was do or die for us. Whatever it takes, we didn’t want to come away empty-handed,” Pinki said.
India beat South Africa 17-10 in the final. They were leading 8-2 at one point before South Africa came back to lead 10-8. As in the semi-finals, it was again Rupa who finished the 12th round by equalizing India at 10-10. First she hit the jack, then threw the second ball so that she was very close to the jack.
“The kind of encouragement and love we receive has shown us the importance of a medal in the life of an athlete,” said Pinki. “Logon ne pehchanana shuru kiya hai (people started to recognize us). We were like ‘ek medal to chahiye hi chahiye’ (we want at least a medal at all costs), so people come to see us and we ask – what is grass balls?”
Is lawn bowls likely to get more support now after the CWG medal? Pinki was very honest in her response to this question.
“Unless you do something, how can you expect people to look at it (in a positive way). Now that we’ve done something, obviously the support will come.
“We won medals at the Asian Championships, but now you can see for yourself what a difference a Commonwealth Games medal can make. That medal opened up another sport for young people.
“Come play,” she said before getting off the bus in Victoria Park.

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