India created history in the Commonwealth Games lawn bowls competition on Monday as the Women’s Fours assured the country its first medal, storming back from an initial deficit to stun New Zealand 16-13 in the semifinals at the Victoria Park here.
The Indian Women’s Fours of Lovely Choubey (Lead), Pinki (second), Nayanmoni Saikia (third) and Rupa Rani Tirkey (skip) mounted a superb comeback after getting off to a slow start, failing to score in the first two ends.
Down 1-8 shots at one time, the Indians got going from the fifth end onwards, closing the gap on the New Zealand Four of Satina Goodard, Nicole Toomey, Tayla Bruce and Val Smith as they slowly built up the momentum for the nail-biting finale in the last five ends.
After levelling the scores at 7-7 shots in the ninth end, the Indians surged to a 10-7 lead before the Kiwis caught up with them at 10-10 and went ahead 12-10 after the 12th end. The Indians equalised scores once again at 12-12 shots but going into the 15th and final end, New Zealand had a narrow 13-12 lead. But the Indians claimed six shots in the final end compared to none by the Kiwis to win the match 16-13 and assure themselves a medal.
The Indian Women’s Fours will now take on South Africa in the Gold Medal match on Tuesday after the African team defeated Fiji 16-14 in the other semifinal.
Though it is one of the core sports in the Commonwealth Games programme and has been played sincee the first edition of the Games at Hamilton, Canada in 1930, Lawn bowls is a relatively new sport for the Indians as they participated in it seriously only when New Delhi hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2010. It was mostly restricted to golf clubs which provided the pristine greens that are needed to play the game.
Though a favourite pastime of the British expatriates during the days of the Raj as an alternative to golf, the Indians did not take to lawn bowls, unlike sports like cricket, football, golf and horse racing also introduced by the Britishers.
Loosely described by many as “snooker on the lawn”, it is actually a sport in which the objective is to roll biased balls (heavier to one side so that they move in a curved path, so that they stop close to a smaller ball called a “jack” or “kitty”. It is played on a bowling green, which may be flat (for “flat-green bowls”) or convex or uneven (for “crown green bowls”). It is normally played outdoors (although there are many indoor venues) and the outdoor surface is either natural grass, artificial turf or cotula (in New Zealand).–iANS