QUEEN'S ROAD: Shabbir Asgarali Dhankot (25) has bagged the country’s first silver medal in the 23rd Asian Tenpin Bowling Championship.
Asian nations dominate tenpin bowling just as they do in badminton. If you are among the top in Asia, you are also in elite company internationally. Shabbir’s achievement was very significant given the fact that the central government did not clear the team to take part in the Asian games in Incheon late last year.
The bowling contingent was surely disappointed. But thanks to the efforts of the Tenpin Bowling Federation’s (India) Bengaluru-based general secretary R Kannan, the boys regrouped and worked hard to do well in the meet. Keeping their spirits up was of primary importance and Kannan managed to do that.
“I was heart-broken and was thinking of giving up the sport. But for Kannan’s help and guidance, I might have done just that. Now after this success, I hope people will open their eyes and encourage the sport,” said Shabbir.
Shabbir has been in the national team for the past six years. In the Asian event, played on long oil, he was up against eventual winner Yusuke Yamamoto of Japan (1,401 pin-falls in six games). Shabbir had 1,396 pin-falls in six games. The bronze medal was won by Mostafa Al Mousawi of Kuwait (1,395 pin-falls in six games). It was that close. The Japanese had scores of 242, 244, 216, 224, 229, 246 in the block of six games with Shabbir managing an impressive 258, 195, 218,278, 215, 232 to take the silver.
After the Japanese went clear and were assured of the gold, Shabbir and Mostafa fought it out for the second slot. Mostafa had the highest score in the games with a 279 to start his campaign. Shabbir managed 258 and dropped to 195 in the second. Mostafa had another big game of 255 and 246. But Shabbir was not one to give up. He had a splendid game of 278 in the fourth and trailed Mostafa by a mere 28 points.
Shabbir rolled five strikes in a row in a 232 score to take the lead and Mostafa had to settle for bronze, just one pin less than Shabbir’s tally of 1,396.
Malaysian Allan Chia Ang, who coaches the national team, has done wonders with players like Shabbir, Aakash Agarwal, Dhruv Sharda, making waves and producing good averages at many international tournaments.
“This championship will always be special to me. I was competing against players from Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, UAE — places that have produced champions in this sport,” Shabbir said.
“The federation’s priority is to increase the talent pool from the existing 12 to 40 bowlers and groom them to compete at the international level. We are also looking to get Indian coaches. We will propose to create regional training facilities across the country,” said Kannan.