SPORT

Castellino overcomes a rusty Kurian

Nandakumar Marar

MUMBAI: Thomas Kurian, playing from memory, needed time to get into groove.

Rohan Castellino didn't afford him the luxury, taking advantage of the defending champion's rustiness to win 21-14, 17-21, 21-18 for a deserving berth in the men's singles third round in the Indian Oil-sponsored Indian International badminton championships at the Goregaon Sports Club indoor courts.

Castellino spurted to an early 9-3 lead in the first set, stuck to his plan despite the second set reverse and held off a determined Kurian, who is known for retrieving ability, in the third. The latter had beaten Iranian Ali Shah Hooseini in the opener.

Top seeds Chetan Anand and Saina Nehwal remained on course in the main draw, defeating Sachin Ratti 24-22, 21-18 and Jui Agaskar 21-12, 21-2, respectively, in second round matches.

Iranian presence

Iran is sending a women's only badminton team for the 2006 Asian Games next month. Two probables for Doha, covered from head to foot, appeared on court here.

They wore a scarf on the head and were clad in a `mantu' leaving no part of the body exposed, as per rules for Iranian sportswomen.

Behnaz Pirzamanbein, a 21-year-old student of applied mathematics, made seasoned Indian international Shruti Kurien scramble for returns before the latter steadied herself for a 21-17, 21-15 victory and a place in the second round.

"Indian players are very good," said the Iranian, ranked higher (170) than her rival (233) but still to develop the Indian girl's range of strokeplay. "The heat made things difficult. We had played in air-conditioned courts in India before, so playing in these clothes was not a problem then," she said.

Shruti, fluid mover on court and without clothing restrictions to hamper mobility, displayed patience to read Behnaz's game before seizing the initiative with wristy smashes and angled drops. The Iranian staged a comeback in the second to draw level but it was only a flicker of a fightback.

The Iranian will now focus on the women's doubles partnering Nakisa Sultani, a 22-year-old physical education student. Nakisa bowed out to Indian qualifier Neha Pandit in the first round.

"Before going for competitions, we need to begin training with full attire at least for a month to get adjusted," said Behnaz, viewing badminton as an opportunity to travel, learning by competing against different opponents in varied conditions.

"I played the World championships in Madrid, now after Mumbai will focus on the Doha Asian Games," she said.

The results (Indian unless mentioned otherwise): Men's singles (1st round): Amila Yatapana (Sri Lanka) w/o Balram Thapa (Nepal); Cheol Baek Shin (Kor) bt Lasitha Menaka (SL) 21-17, 21-19; Thomas Kurian bt Ali Hoseini Shah (Iran) 21-4, 21-14; Gholamreza Bagheri (Irn) bt Diluka Karunaratne (SL) 21-6, 21-13; Rutuparna Kulkarni bt Sameera Sandakelum (SL) 21-13, 22-24, 21-11; Kristoffer Stampe (Den) bt Yukti Perery (SL) 21-13, 21-6.

2nd round: Chetan Anand bt Sachin Ratti 24-22, 21-18; Abhinn Shyam Gupta bt Dinuka Karunratne (Sri) 21-16, 21-9; Anand Pawar bt Seolk Eui Chung (Kor) 21-9, 21-11; Dennis Prehn (Den) bt Amila Yatapana (SL) 21-16, 21-10; Peter Mikkelsen (Den) bt Rohit More 21-15, 21-15.

Ajay Jayaram bt Chol Baer Shin (Kor) 21-17, 21-10; Ho Cheol Lee (Kor) bt Ahsun Bahib (Ban) 21-5, 21-9.

Rohan Castellino bt Thomas Kurian 21-14, 17-21, 21-18; Gholamreza Bagheri (Irn) bt JBS Vidyadhar 21-16, 14-21, 21-17; Michael Christensen (Den) bt Jibi Verghese 21-8, 21-11.

Min Hoon Jung (Kor) bt Rutuparna Kulkarni 21-10, 21-13; P. Kashyap bt Arup Baidya 21-12, 21-9; Sagar Chopda bt Kristoffer Stampe (Den) 21-16, 16-21, 21-9; Hun Dong Kim (Kor) w/o Pashupati Panery.

Women' singles (1st round): Jui Agaskar w/o Saradevi Tamang (Nep); Neha Pandit bt Nakisa Sultani (Irn) 21-16, 21-10; Ruth Misha bt Jang Jiu Sun (Kor) 17-21, 21-18, 21-14; Krishna Dekaraja bt Sampada Sahasrabudhe 20-22, 21-14, 21-11; Hi Moon Kim (Kor) bt Nadseesha Gayanthi (Sri) 21-7, 21-12.

Sharda Govardhini bt Konikarani (Ban) 21-5, 21-19, Shruti Kurian bt Behnaz Pirzamanbein (Irn) 21-17, 21-15; Jung Soo Hong (Kor) bt Thilini Jayasinghe (Sri) 21-16, 21-9; Trupti Murgunde bt Boibari Basumatari 21-18, 21-19; Sayali Gokhale bt Halder Dulari (Ban) 21-9, 21-4; Jwala Gutta bt Ridhi Panjwani 21-10, 21-6; Abantika Deka w/o Sumina Shrestha (Nep).

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