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What is lawn bowling, the outdoor sport that earned India its historic gold at the Commonwealth Games?

New Delhi: The Indian women’s grass bowl team made history at Tuesday’s ongoing Commonwealth Games in Birmingham by winning a gold medal in the women’s four-a-side format. The team, consisting of Rupa Rani Tirkey, Pinki (identified by her first name only), Nayanmoni Saikia and Lovely Choubey, won the medal by beating powerhouse South Africa.

From Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Ministry of Railways and businessman Anand Mahindra, congratulations to the team.

But not many are familiar with this outdoor sport that requires immense accuracy and an understanding of angles.

How is lawn bowling played?

Lawn bowling is often thought of as a hybrid of bowling and the winter sport of curling. While in ten-pin bowling the goal is to knock down all the pins at the end of a lane, in lawn bowling the team must get the ‘bowl’ (the ball) closest to a target referred to as The ‘Jack’ .

Shells are mostly spherical, sphere-like objects, typically made of wood, rubber or synthetic resin, with flattened sides and between 112mm and 134mm in diameter. The shells weigh up to 1.59 kg and often have indentations to give players a better grip.

Players stand on either side of a mat 600mm long and 360mm wide and take turns rolling these shells to get closest to the jack. The bush is either white or yellow and is smaller and lighter than the bowl.

In the fours event, the first bowler, called the lead, is followed by the second and third. The last bowler is called “Skip” and is the leader of the team. Each team member gets two bowls per round. After all eight bowlers have bowled twice, the teams switch sides.

At the end of each round, points are awarded to the team that has their bowls closest to the jack. Referees use a device called a box measure, which uses a string to measure the distance between the jack and the cups. In the four-a-side event, each game ends after 15 rounds, with the winning team being the one with the most points. If there is a tie between the two teams, they play additional rounds until a winner is determined.

Since its first edition in 1930, lawn bowls have been a part of the Commonwealth Games. So far, England, Australia and South Africa have won the most medals in the game with 51, 50 and 44 respectively. Scotland has won 20 gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.

India has competed in Lawn Bowls events at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games. The country’s best-ever team finished fourth in the 2010 Delhi women’s lawn bowls triples event and in the 2014 men’s fours event at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

India has the opportunity to win the upcoming women’s triples and pairs and the men’s fours in the Lawn Bowls events at this edition of the Commonwealth Games.


Also read: PM Modi congratulates weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga on winning gold in men’s 67kg final


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