From Delhi University cricket captain to CWG 2022 lawn bowls gold medallist, Pinki says ‘we had to do it’ | Commonwealth Games 2022 News

NEW DELHI: Lead. To skip. Jack. Ends. Size of the box. The vocabulary of sports fans, even some experts, was put to the test earlier this week. It is not common to come across the above terms in terms of sports in India as the country is the sport of ‘lawn bowls‘ until three days ago. It was as if golfer Aditi Ashok woke India from Japan at 4 a.m. last August and forced the country to google par, birdie, eagle, albatross, etc., when she was on the waiting list for an Olympic medal in Tokyo. She narrowly missed a podium finish. But a quartet of Indian women in the bowling alleys of Victoria Park during the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022 said to themselves: “Iss baar to karna hai” (we have to do it this time). And they won a historic gold.
India listened to Rupa Rani Tirkey very carefully on live broadcast. She is the ‘Skip’ of the Indian ‘Women’s Fours’ lawn bowls team, consisting of: Beautiful Choubey (Lead), pinkic (Second) and Nayanmoni Saikia (Third) as the other three members. That’s the order in which they bowl. The ‘Skip’ gets the last turn to bowl.
Rupa de ‘Skip’, a District Sports Officer from Ranchi, told her teammates how to release the ball and which line to bowl so that it rotates and gets closer to the ‘Jack’.
Watching a sport for the first time is like reading credits rolling across the screen: who’s who and what’s what?
The ‘Jack’ is a yellow ball. The players must throw (the balls) so that they spin and roll up closest to the jack. The team that has more balls closer to the jack than their opponents gets the most points when completing an ‘End’. The distance between the Jack and the balls is measured by a device called ‘box Measure’.


(A player using the ‘box size’ to mark the distance from the jack i.e. the ball in yellow – Getty Images)
The credits roll again.
An ‘End’ is synonymous with lawn bowls for a ’round’. A ‘Four Women’ match has 15 Ends, in which each team member throws two balls per End. The other three formats are Singles, Pairs and Triples.
Against the South African team that came in second in the 2018 CWG ‘Women’s Fours’ event, the Indian players had a big task on their hands. If you have already achieved a historic medal by participating in the final, this can sometimes change the focus. But if Rupa’s one throw in the semi-final against New Zealand was anything to go by, then this Indian team was in with a good shout. Rupa’s one try ended with four Indian balls closer to the Jack, giving India four points. This can be done by knocking the Jack away from the opponent’s clutch, bringing more of your team’s balls closer to the Jack.
Rupa was confident and vocal as a director on a film shoot, when Pinki, a physical education teacher at a Delhi school, stepped on the mat to bowl.
“Idhar se fenkna tot yahan se andar ghumega (come it from this side so that it turns inward).” It was like the former Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni instructing his spinners. By the way, Rupa, like Dhoni, also comes from Ranchi.


(From left, Lovely Choubey, Pinki, Nayanmoni Saikia and Rupa Rani Tirkey – PTI Photo)
The other two members of the team, Lovely, a Jharkhand police officer, and Nayanmonia, a forest ranger from Assam, watched patiently.
“The Skip is always close to the jack,” Pinki said during a telephone conversation with… from Birmingham. “She would know best which direction to bowl, what the speed, weight, etc. So Rupa kept giving us instructions. The coordination between the four of us was very good.”
Time to roll the credits again.
When the word “weight” is mentioned, it has to do with the balls the players throw. It’s a ‘biased ball’. Biased means it is asymmetrical in nature – one side is heavy and the other side is light.
“The heavy side is always held to the side where we want the ball to bend/turn after we bowl it. The line matters, in addition to the weight we need to control,” Pinki explained to


(A clutch of ‘biased balls’ used in the sport of lawn bowls – Getty Images)
Until the early 2000s, Pinki literally played ‘another ball game’ as the captain of the Delhi University cricket team.
“I joined the Public School in Delhi (DPS) as a physical education teacher, after I got my diploma from NIS (National Institute of Sports) Patiala in cricket because I played the Rani Jhansi Trophy,” said the 42-year-old from Delhi.
The Rani Jhansi Trophy is an elite women’s cricket tournament which is also one of the prominent routes to count for the Indian team.
“I have been captain of the Delhi University team. When I joined DPS, the then director, Mr. DR Saini, asked me to introduce lawn bowls, because in 2007, at my first National Games, I won a silver medal That’s where this journey began,” Pinki said, without going into the reasons why she chose not to continue playing cricket professionally.


(Rupa Rani Tirkey – Getty Images)
Like her team members, Pinki has been a medalist of the Asian Championships several times. “I’ve medaled in all Asian lawn bowl championships held from 2009 to 2018, including gold,” she said categorically.
But the Commonwealth Games had not been a happy hunting ground for the Indian. Pinki has featured in the three previous editions of the Games, but the Indian team never really looked like a medal contender despite coming close on an odd occasion.
“Teams have been good in the past too, but the luck factor was not in our favour, sometimes performance was disappointing, like we couldn’t finish at the last moments. We missed the ‘how to finish’ section (matches) But then we gained experience, it taught us how to do it (win),” Pinki continued


(The celebrations after the winning moment – Getty Images)
Returning empty-handed is never a good feeling. Without mentioning it specifically, Pinki wanted to repay on a personal level the support and trust her family had always given her since her parents recognized her enthusiasm for sports.
“It has been three Commonwealth Games (without a medal) – 2010, 2014, 2018. We reach to the quarters and semi-finals and then return (empty handed) from that stage. This time it was do or die for us. whatever it takes, we didn’t want to go back empty-handed,” said Pinki.
India defeated South Africa 17-10 in the final. They led 8-2 at one point before South Africa came back 10-8. As in the semi-finals, it was again Rupa who closed the 12th End by drawing India to a 10-10 draw. First she hit the jack and then threw the second ball so that it landed very close to the jack.
“The kind of cheer and love we receive taught us the importance of a medal in an athlete’s life,” Pinki said. “Logon ne pehchanana shuru kiya hai (people are starting to recognize us). We were like ‘ek medal to chahiye hi chahiye’ (we want at least one medal at all costs), so people come to us and ask us – what is lawn bowls?”


(Pinki bites her gold medal to pose for the photographers while teammate Lovely looks on – PTI Photo)
Are lawn bowls now likely to get more support after the CWG Medal? Pinki was very honest in her answer to that question.
“Unless you do something, how can you expect people to look at it (positively). Now that we’ve done something, of course support will come.
“We have won medals in the Asian Championship, but now you can see for yourself the difference a Commonwealth Games medal can make. This medal has opened up another sport for the youth.
“Come and play,” she said, before getting off the bus at Victoria Park.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.