Tennis, boxing bring smile after spate of failures
India’s shooters, archers, shuttlers and track and field athletes suffered reverses at the Rio Olympics, but Mirza and Rohan Bopanna reached semi-finals of tennis mixed doubles. Also, the Indian boxer Vikas Krishnan has advanced to boxing quarterfinals.
Sania and Bopanna subdued Britain's Andy Murray and Heather Watson with remarkable ease to breeze into the mixed doubles semifinals with a 6-4 6-4 win in just 67 minutes.
One more victory will ensure India a silver medal and a defeat in the semifinals would give Sania and Bopanna a chance to fight for the bronze.
Sania and Bopanna were a better team than the Britons, who never posed a threat to the Indians. Bopanna was solid with his booming serve while Sania played superbly from the back of the court.
Vikas then stood a win away from an elusive Olympic medal as he outclassed Turkey's Sipal Onder 3-0 to make the quarterfinals of men's 75kg middleweight boxing.
The 24-year-old Indian started off with some counter punches in a fast-paced round one in Pavilion 6 at Riocentro and carried the momentum throughout to emerge triumphant.
Before that, though, India did not have anything to cheer.
The men's hockey team, already assured of a berth in the quarterfinals, led twice against lowly Canada before allowing their rivals to bounce back and earn a 2-2 draw in their concluding pool game.
London Games bronze-winning shooter Gagan Narang and Chain Singh bowed out of Rifle Prone in the qualification, even as Gurpreet Singh and Mairaj Ahmed Khan finished the stage 1 qualifying of 25m rapid fire pistol and men's skeet on 10th position.
To add to the woes, the country's athletes made a disastrous beginning in track and field events with star discus thrower Vikas Gowda buckling under pressure once again to finish a distant 28th with a poor best throw of 58.99 metres and were eliminated.
The day commenced with Atanu Das letting slip chances in his men's individual recurve pre-quarterfinal to bow out of contention and draw curtains on India's fruitless campaign in archery.
Taking aim amid heavy rain, Atanu went down 4-6 to World No.8 Lee Seung-Yun, who had already helped South Korea win the team gold at the event, by losing two sets and winning one while the rest two ended in ties.
The Indian lost 28-30, 30-28, 27-27, 27-28 28-28 to bring to an end the country's medal-less campaign.