Pak’s Chand bats for India’s Mairaj on ranges


Vinayak Padmadeo
Today News Online Service
New Delhi, March 19

The lone contestant from Pakistan at the ISSF World Cup, Usman Chand, is garnering a lot of media attention. Chand, a skeet shooter, had been warned by his dear friend Mairaj Ahmad Khan that ‘you’ll be mobbed’. The joke made the 36-year-old a little edgy, and rightly so.

Chand and Mairaj share a lot with each other, apart from than the shotgun discipline. The two skeet shooters have struck up quite a friendship in the last nine years or so that they have been competing against each other.

Chand knows of Mairaj’s love for cricket. The Indian shooter, before his present avatar as a skeet shooter, was a budding cricketer and shared a dressing room with none other than Virender Sehwag during his Jamia Millia Islamia University days.

Despite moving to shotgun sport, the 45-year-old retains his love for the 22 yards of cricket and occasionally takes to the greens. And whenever he needs a new match bat, he dials up Chand.

Chand’s brother-in-law Waleed Aslam is associated with CA Sports, one of the world’s top manufacturers of cricket bats and accessories. And this time, on request, Chand brought along a CA 1500, a Grade A quality bat.

“Mairaj bhai is like an elder brother to me. And whenever he needs a bat, I get it for him,” the 36-year-old Chand told The Tribune. “I know he is still interested in cricket and so I brought CA 1500, which is the latest from the CA stables, for him. It is not a big deal really.”

Chand will be in fray from Saturday, when the skeet qualification rounds start. “I am hoping to do well and look forward to a good performance,” said Chand, whose best result has been a fifth-place finish at the 2018 Asian Games. “I have been training at my home range in Sialkot but I haven’t participated in a major tournament for over a year due to Covid-19 regulations. Let’s hope I do well.”

Anjum Moudgil roars back

Chandigarh girl Anjum zMoudgil hit form at the right time to finish second in the qualification round for the women’s 10m air rifle today. Moudgil, who won the Olympics quota at the World Championships in 2019, was under a lot of pressure off late after a series of bad scores in the trials. As a result her place in the Tokyo-bound team was being questioned.

However, the 27-year-old shot a 629.6 today to qualify second behind Hungary’s Eszter Denes (629.8) for Saturday’s final.

But other heavyweights of the women’s team had a disappointing Day 1 at the World Cup. Olympics quota winner Apurvi Chandela and young prospect Elavenil Valarivan failed to qualify for the 10m air rifle final. Elavenil finished 12th with 626.7 points, and Apurvi ended up a lowly 26th with 622.8 points.

In the men’s 10m air rifle, Arjun Babuta and Divyansh Singh Panwar qualified for the final with 631.8 and 629.1 points, respectively. However, Deepak Kumar failed to make it to the finals after aggregating 626.4 points.



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