BIRMINGHAM - The Commonwealth Games 2022 kicked off in a carnival of colour at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham on Thursday night.

Local musical heroes Duran Duran and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi guest-starred on a night which celebrated Birmingham’s industrial heritage and its multicultural tradition, as competitors from the Commonwealth’s 72 nations and territories were cheered into the arena by a 30,000 crowd.

Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived in style, driving into the venue in an Aston Martin as part of a convoy of 72 cars which formed a Union Jack when viewed from above. Charles later officially declared the 22nd edition of the Games open, with a spectacular fireworks display bringing the ceremony to an end and heralding the start of the world’s first major multi-sport event to take place free of Covid-19 restrictions since the pandemic took hold.

Charles delivered The Queen’s message to the Commonwealth Games. In it, she said the Games “remind us of our connection with one another, wherever we may be in the world, as part of the Commonwealth family of nations”. The Prince of Wales added: “Tonight, in the words of the founder of the Games, we embark once again on a novel adventure here in Birmingham, a pioneering city which has drawn in and embraced so many throughout its history. “It is a city symbolic of the rich diversity and unity of the Commonwealth, and one which now welcomes you all in friendship.”

A stunning spectacle also included a Red Arrows fly-past and an appearance from a 10-metre high ‘Raging Bull’, in a section of the ceremony which focused on the plight of female chain-makers in the early 20th century.

The ceremony also featured an appearance from Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. The 25-year-old campaigns and raises funds for girls’ education programmes in Pakistan. “Tonight, teams from 72 countries and territories join the people of Birmingham to celebrate friendship across borders,” Malala said.

“They represent millions of girls and boys and our shared goal, where every child can go to school, where women can fully participate in society and where families can live in peace and dignity. “Remember, every child deserves her chance to fulfil her potential and pursue her wildest dreams.” All around the city is the slogan ‘Sport is Just the Beginning’. Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ehsan-ur-Rehman Mazari also attended the ceremony. Pakistan’s premier wrestler and two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist Muhammad Inam and the national women’s cricket team skipper Bismah Maroof served as flag-bearers during the opening ceremony.

POA SVP Abid Qadir Gillani is the chef de mission of Pakistan’s contingent, while PSB DG Col (R) Asif Zaman is serving as deputy chef de mission. Pakistan contingent is consisted of 103 members. Pakistani athletes are featuring in swimming, athletics, para-athletics, badminton, boxing, women T20 cricket, gymnastics, hockey, judo, squash, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.

Meanwhile, Chef de Mission of Pakistan Contingent, Abid Qadri Gilani, has entrusted Arshad Sattar and Dr Asad Abbas with the responsibility and given instructions of taking care of the training and administrative affairs of the national athletics team, especially focusing on the fitness, training and competition of javelin athlete Arshad Nadeem.

Pakistan beaten badly in badminton mixed team event

India’s badminton mixed team completed a 5-0 sweep against Pakistan in their opening Group A match at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Ashwini Ponnappa and Sumeeth Reddy were the first to take court in the mixed doubles fixture. The Indian duo sailed through their game and won 21-9 21-12, giving India a 1-0 lead. Kidambi Srikanth followed up with a 21-7 21-12 win over Murad Ali in the men’s singles fixture to double India’s advantage in the tie. In the third fixture, PV Sindhu pulled off a comfortable 21-7 21-6 win over Mahoor Shahzad to provide India 3-0 lead.

Having secured the win, India’s men’s doubles pair of Rakiraddy and Shetty completed a straight set 21-12 21-9 win over Pakistan’s pair of Muhammad Bhatti and Murad Ali. The last fixture of the tie saw the women’s doubles team of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand beating their opponents 21-4 21-5 to complete the sweep. Meanwhile, in Commonwealth Boxing event, Pakistan’s 63.5 kg boxer Suleman Baloch lost his first opening bout 5-0 to Indian boxer Shiva Thapa.

Australia beat India as women’s cricket makes Commonwealth debut

World Champions Australia won the first women’s cricket match in Commonwealth Games history with a three-wicket victory over India thanks to Ashleigh Gardner’s unbeaten half-century and Jess Jonassen’s four-wicket haul in their T20 clash on Friday.

Chasing 155 to win in the 20-over game, Australia were in trouble at one stage having lost half their side for 49, but Gardner got them over the line in style with an over remaining. She smashed nine fours in her 52 not out off 35 balls while Grace Harris chipped in with 37 off 20 balls before Alana King (18 not out) helped finish the job. India bowler Renuka Singh took 4-18 in her four overs but the effort was in vain.

India had opted to bat first after winning the toss and made 154-8 in their 20 overs, thanks to skipper Harmanpreet Kaur’s 52 off 34 balls as well as opening batter Shafali Verma’s 48. But Jonassen’s 4-22 meant that the lower order could not take them to a bigger total.