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CWG: No challenge for Bindra, Narang

Kamesh Srinivasan

NEW DELHI: The men's air rifle event may offer the most powerful combination for Indian shooting, with Olympic and World champion Abhinav Bindra and World record holder Gagan Narang ready to intimidate any field, but the event will attract the least fight from the rest of the field in the Commonwealth Games scheduled from October 3 to 14.

According to the provisional entries, there will only be five teams including India. The other teams will be Australia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Singapore. There will be only 16 individual entries.

Yet, it may be recalled that Mohammed Asif Hossain Khan had beaten Bindra to the gold in the Manchester Games in 2002, on the last shot in the individual event of air rifle. 

The 24-year-old Khan may not be the same force now, and will be forging a combination with Abdullah Hel Baki for the team event.

It will be a similar case in the men's rifle 3-position event, which has only 17 entries, and six teams. Narang would understandably be looking at a rich haul, as he competes for six medals in three events.

Tough

However, India may find it hard to assert its authority in the men's 50-metre rifle prone event, in which World No.1 Warren Potent of Australia will be the favourite.

Incidentally, Potent had beaten Narang in a thriller in the tie-shoot for gold in the Commonwealth championship in February at the Dr. Karni Singh Range in Tughlakabad.

The event has also attracted as many as 38 entries for the individual event and 16 teams for the pairs competition.

Interestingly, the Queen's Prize, full bore competition to be staged exclusively at the CRPF Range in Kadarpur, has attracted the maximum entries at 42. The open event, in which targets will be placed at 300 to 1000 yards, has three women participants as well.

Men's rapid fire pistol event, expected to be dominated by Vijay Kumar, as he had done during the Commonwealth championship despite a lack of challenge, has 13 entries, and five teams. It may be recalled that India was the only team during the Commonwealth championship. This time it will have company from Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Wales.

Diamond vs. Vella

If you are looking for stars, you have to watch the men's trap which will have two-time Olympic champion Michael Diamond along with the seasoned Adam Vella.

The Indian challenge will be from Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Mansher Singh. Trap will have a strong field with 37 individuals, and 15 teams.

In men's double trap, where World record holder Ronjan Sodhi would be the favourite, along with the World junior champion Asher Noria, Olympic champion Russell Mark will be the star attraction.

The friendly Australian had guided Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore to the Olympic silver in Athens, when he himself could not get selected for the Games in 2004.

The pistol events have attracted quite a number of entries, and only free pistol has fewer entries at 17.

Men's air pistol has 28 entries, while centre fire pistol standard have attracted 26 and 23 entries respectively.

The newly-crowned World champion Tejaswini Sawant will be competing in rifle 3-position and prone events. The two events have attracted 17 and 22 entries respectively.

Overall, India can fancy a lot of medals from the shooting range. The Indian team had given a hint of its strike power during the Commonwealth championship by bagging 23 gold, 17 silver and nine bronze medals in almost a similar field.

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