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Snooker team bags silver, 7-0 win in hockey

 GUANGZHOU, Nov 15 (IANS): The Indian menís snooker team lost 1-3 to China and had to be content with a silver at the Asian Games here on Monday, while the menís hockey team began their campaign on an upbeat note with a 7-0 demolition of Hong Kong.

 The shooters, however, disappointed, finishing a lowly fifth in the menís and womenís team event of the 50 metre rifle prone and none of them qualified for the final of the individual event. Weightlifter K Ravi Kumar could not replicate his gold medal performance of the Commonwealth Games and finished a disappointing fifth in the menís 69kg category.

Indiaís Sharath Kamal and Shamini Kumaresan beat the Vietnamese pair of Quang Linh Dinh and Thi Tam Luong 3-1 to enter the pre-quarterfinals of the table tennis mixed doubles event. In swimming, Veerdhawal Khade qualified for the final of the 50 metres freestyle event but missed the bronze by a whisker, finishing fourth.

Indiaís challenge in soft tennis ended after they lost both their mixed doubles first round matches. The cueist trio of Yasin Merchant, Aditya Kumar, Brijesh Damani went down to Junhui Ding, Liang Wenbo and Tian Pengfei 16-70, 51-46, 27-68, 0-96. Earlier on Monday, they had advanced to the title contest with ease, defeating Pakistan 3-0.

Aditya defeated Sohail Shehzad 84-8 in the first frame before Merchant got the better of Imran Shehzad 75-45 to make it 2-0 for India.

Brijesh and Merchant sealed the tie with a 91-61 victory over Shehzad and Shahram Changezi.

India began their Group B hockey campaign with Bharat scoring in the second minute and opening up the floodgates against a hapless Hong Kong. Drag-flick specialist Sandeep Singh (4th minute, 18th) then converted two penalty corners, before the free-flowing Indian attack toyed with the Hong Kong defence with relentless forays.

Sarvanjit Singh (22nd) scored another goal to make it 4-0 before the breather. Two minutes into the second half, Tushar Khandekar sounded the board while Arjun Halappa (38th) added another in quick succession.

Shivendra Singh joined the party in the 48th minute to complete the Hong Kong rout.

India will next take on Bangladesh on Wednesday and will then meet tougher opponents Pakistan and Japan in the Group. A gold here would give a team direct entry into the 2012 London Olympics.

A former powerhouse in the sport, Indiaís last of the two hockey gold medals in Asian Games came in 1998 at Bangkok. In the previous edition in Doha, they failed to finish on the podium for the first time in the Games history.

Gagan Narang (587), Hariom Singh (590) and Surendra Singh Rathod (586) shot a total of 1,763 at the Aoti Shooting Range and all three failed to make the cut for the individual round.

In the womenís event, world champion Tejaswini Sawant (588), Meena (586) and Lajja Gauswami (585) finished fifth with a score of 1,759 points.

Ravi Kumar, who won a gold at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, was one of the medal prospects in weightlifting. After lifting 141kg in snatch, the Indian needed to lift 180kg in the clean and jerk round to finish amongst the medals. Ravi, who lifted a total of 321kg in Delhi, could only manage 170kg in clean and jerk to finish with an overall weight of 311kg.

In table tennis, the other Indian pair of Amalraj Anthony and Madhurika Patkar lost to Chih Yuan Chang and Yi Hua Huang of Chinese Taipei 0-3 to bow out at the Guangzhou Gymansium.

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