The clash of Delhi University’s sporting titans
Sports in Delhi University is like a religion. Not only are sporting events always fuelled with great energy and exhilarating performances, they are also major crowd-pullers, courtesy of some great college rivalries which extend beyond the court sometimes.
“While the regular matches get okay crowd, it is the matches between colleges who have rivalry that get amazing crowds. The atmosphere at the matches of the colleges is like that of India-Pakistan cricket match. There’s hooting, shouting, sledging, and lots of fun,” says Himanshu Singh Batra, the captain of the Hindu College basketball team.The new session’s sporting season has already begun, and old and new rivalries are back into the court. We set out to find the biggest rivalries in the sports scene.
BASKETBALL: HANSRAJ COLLEGE VS HINDU COLLEGE
Although Hansraj College had strong rivalry with Kirori Mal College until last year, Vishesh Oberoi, a basketball player from Hansraj says that it’s their rivalry with Hindu that is the most ‘intense’ now. “Our rivalry with Hindu has always been about more than just the game, but it’s one that is very healthy. Hansraj never lost a match to Hindu in the last season and every game we play is stiff competition for both the teams,” he says.
Himanshu Singh , the captain of Hindu’s basketball team shares the same thoughts when you ask him about the Hindu-Hansraj rivalry. “Although the greatest rivalry of our college has been with Stephen’s College, the equation changed wildly last season. Hansraj has a pretty formidable team and has managed to get the better of us last year through sheer effort. But we are determined to change this and are focusing on our strengths this year. We’re great friends, but on the court, we are nothing less than rivals,” he says.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: SHRI RAM COLLEGE OF COMMERCE VS LADY SHRI RAM COLLEGE
There are a great many rivalries in the varsity’s women’s basketball scene, but nothing comes close to the one shared by SRCC and LSR. “LSR is our greatest competition and we try to stay extra-focused every time we have a match against them. We as a team work on ourselves and our weaknesses rather than investing time on our opponents and their game. But we do strategise against LSR to make sure that we don’t make mistakes that would cost us the match,” says Palakh Sharma, captain of the SRCC team.
“It has always been neck-to-neck between us, and sometimes, they get the better of us, leaving us disappointed. But that does not get to our head. We work harder to make sure that the next time when we are on the court together, we win. For us, it is more than just a rivalry. It is a legacy that we need to carry forward,” she adds.
LSR team captain Garima Gosain says that SRCC has been the team’s greatest competition in the last two years. ”When we go up against SRCC, we are under a lot of pressure, and we make sure that we focus on our game. Defeating SRCC is the best feeling we have, and every time we win against them, we are all shouting and hooting. That feeling is something incomparable,” Gosain says.
TABLE TENNIS: ST STEPHEN’S COLLEGE VS SHRI RAM COLLEGE OF COMMERCE
St Stephen’s College and SRCC have really great players in their table tennis teams, and one can see these two teams butt heads ever so often. “SRCC has been our toughest competitor by far,” says Harsh Lahoti of Stephen’s College. “The level of players in both colleges is great, and both teams have been making their colleges proud. It’s not only the players who feel this rivalry; our coaches and physical education departments do so, too. All we want is to win the inter-college tournament and defeat our rivals, and in this case, it’s always SRCC.”
Jai Mehlawat, the captain of SRCC’s table tennis team doesn’t really believe in having rivals, but he does agree that the St. Stephen’s team is one to watch out for. “We came second last year in the inter-college tournament and it was St. Stephen’s that beat us. Both teams played well but Stephen’s created history by winning the match against us. Losing to them has made me work harder to make sure we don’t lose this year.”
FOOTBALL: MULTIPLE RIVALRIES
While the most popular rivalry here is again between Hindu and St Stephen’s, the more recent one is shared between three colleges. How, you ask? Well, St Stephen’s considers SRCC as their rival, SRCC counts Zakir Hussain College as theirs, and Zakir Hussain College (which is almost always in the top league) doesn’t believe in rivals at all.
Himanshu Minocha of the SRCC football team says, “Zakir Hussain is one of our greatest rivals. Last year, we faced them twice, lost the first time (on penalties) and won the second by a solitary goal. The team is one of the very few in the DU circuit which has players who want to, and can, take up the game professionally. Every time we play against them, it’s tough on the referee to mediate the game, thanks to the volatile and aggressive atmosphere on the field.”
SRCC might call Zakir Hussain their rival, but they, too, are watched closely by the team at St Stephen’s. Karan Khurana, captain of St Stephen’s football team, says, “SRCC has a strong team and are our fiercest competitors. But we have the oldest rivalry with Hindu College. At the St Stephen’s invitationals every year, the first match is always St Stephen’s vs Hindu. We have never lost that match. So, every time we play against Hindu, we try to continue the legacy.”
CRICKET: HINDU COLLEGE VS SRI VENKATESWARA COLLEGE
While Swami Shraddhanand College team has championed the sport in the varsity, it is the rivalry between Hindu and Venky’s teams that has been talked about for years. Rishabh Drall, a member of Sri Venkateswara College’s cricket team, says, “When we play against Hindu, it is more than just a match. Last year, we defeated them in the inter-college [match], and I still remember how we were screaming our lungs out after the win. Both teams have state players and that’s what makes the competition all the more exciting.”
Jas Batra, the captain of the Hindu College cricket team compares the rivalry to the one shared by India and Pakistan. “Venky is our greatest rival. Every match we play against each other is a nail-biter. It involves some really heated moments, and is full of sledging, not only on the field but also beyond it. Last year, I took six wickets against them and yet we lost the match. But this will definitely not be the case this year,” he says.
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