Event Section
PSPB sweep titles; silver lining for Jubin's Haryana and West Bengal


Hyderabad, January 7: Winning is a habit and, thanks to the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board’s firepower, it has got stuck with their men since their first win at Jammu in 1997. PSPB’s men yet again lifted the Barna Ballack Cup, for the 18th occasion beating Haryana 3-1 in the 77th Senior National and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships at the Kotla Vijay Bhaskara Reddy Indoor Stadium here today.


PSPB women did an encore beating West Bengal 3-0 to retain the Jayalakshmi Cup for the 14th time overall and the second consecutive occasion after letting it slip off their hands for a year to Delhi at Raipur in 2012. PSPB women had won their first crown at Lucknow in 1999. Only once did their men lost hold on the trophy when they lost to Railways way back in 2001 at New Delhi.



Jubin’s symphony   


Jubin’s mellifluous symphony captivated everyone, both in the semifinal and the final, for the second day today. Yet, his co-orchestra performers somehow sounded phony notes in on the grand stage and that put paid to their gold-winning ambitions. Nevertheless, one cannot take the credit away from them for finishing the bride’s maid on the day.


After knocking off Soumyajit Ghosh in the opening rubber, Jubin Kumar had provided a perfect start. But Achanta Sharath Kamal, returning to the grandstand event, played true to his potential and class to account for Sarthak Gandhi. Sharath’s crisp shots, off both hands, had mesmerizing effect on young Sarthak and he threw in the towel early. Then Harmeet Desai—both Amalraj and Sathiyan were benched for the final—huffed and puffed his way to beating Mohit Verma to put PSPB 2-1 up. Then Sharath, despite being extended by Jubin in their reverse singles, did not get carried away and finished the job in style.


Sharath admitted he needed some more rest before he can return to his best form. Nevertheless, he was happy to have struck some form which helped his team win title for another year. “I am okay with my form but do feel like having rest for some more time. But I was really impressed with the way Jubin (Kumar) played. Beating Ghosh needed some guts and Jubin was too good today. He even took a set off me and all credits to Jubin,” said Sharath.


As for PSPB women, they did not have any difficult at all in putting it across West Bengal in a one-sided final. Except for Mousui Paul, who extended the full distance in the first rubber, both Mouma Das and Ankita Das routed Krittwika Sinha Roy and Anindita Chakraborty to emerge winnes for yet another time.


In men’s second semifinal, Jubin helped Haryana entered their maiden final as smoothly as possible when their team beat fancied Maharashtra 3-0. In the other match, it was rather easy for PSPB against Gujarat.


Sarthak Gandhi gave the vital lead when he beat Maharashtra’s No. 1 player Sanil Shetty 3-2 with Jubin to follow. He did not take much time in completing another fine-flowing show as Aman Balgu bowed before him and Mohit Verma downed Noel Pint by the same margin of 3-1.


Sharath toyed with Gujarat youngster Manav Thakkar before winning 3-0. Except for the third game, where Manav was allowed some extra liberty by Sharath, class Sharath in complete control. Anthony Amalraj and G. Sathiyan made even simpler by demolishing Devesh Karia and Jignesh Jaiswal, despite allowing them take a game each.



RBI’s journey complete


Reserve Bank of India’s women team was halted in its maiden trip to the nationals by title-holders PSPB who won 3-0 in the first semifinal in the morning. Only Shweta Parte managed to take two games off veteran Mouma Das in the second singles but both Manika Batra, who played the first singles, and K. Shamini, the third, showed no mercy to their opponents and whipped them in the first opportunity.


However, credit must go to RBI for ending up with only their second medal—their first came in the Inter-Institutional championships in August last at New Delhi—in so many years of participation. To a large extent, it was due to Krittwika Sinha Roy’s presence in the team last time that helped them qualify for the nationals. Since her quitting the RBI early this year, there was a question mark over RBI’s ability with only Shweta and newcomers like Kakoli and Shruti. Yet, the RBI should feel contended with the bronze as Shweta played her role to near perfection.


Runners-up West Bengal thumped Tamil Nadu 3-1 in the second semifinal despite Reeth Rishya’s good form. Expectedly, Reeth won one of her singles against Shreya Ghosh to level score but could not overcome Mousumi Paul to put up a semblance of fight after Vidya Narasimhan lost the third singles to the oldest player on the scene, Anindita Chakraborty—the Railways’ player is representing her state here. The fighter that Anindita is, she provide the 2-1 lead for West Bengal and thereafter it was left to Mousumi to complete the job.


For the next three days, it will be a hectic affair for all paddlers with the singles events, with qualification matches beginning later tonight.


Men’s Team: (Final): PSPB bt Haryana 3-1 (Soumyajit Ghosh lost to Jubin Kumar 11-6, 9-11, 12-14, 11-5, 8-11, A. Sharath Kamal bt Sarthak Gandhi 8-11, 11-4, 11-1, 11-6, Harmeet Desai bt Mohit Verma 11-9, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9, A. Sharath Kamal bt Jubin Kumar 10-12, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5). Semifinals: PSPB bt Gujarat 3-0 (Achanta Sharath Kamal bt Manav Thakkar 11-4, 11-5, 16-14, Anthony Amalraj bt Devesh Karia 11-3, 11-6, 11-13, 11-7, G. Sathiyan bt Jignesh Jaiswal 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-1); Haryana bt Maharashtra 3-0 (Sarthak Gandhi bt Sanil Shetty 11-7, 9-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-9, Jubin Kumar bt Aman Balgu 9-11, 11-3, 13-11, 11-5, Mohit Verma bt Noel Pinto 11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9).

Women’s Team: (Final): PSPB bt West Bengal 3-0 (Manika Batra bt Mousumi Paul 10-12, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6, Mouma Das bt Krittwika Sinha Roy 11-7, 11-4, 11-7, Ankita Das bt Anindita Chakraborty 11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5). Semifinals: PSPB bt RBI 3-0 (Manika Batra bt Kakoli Lahkar 11-9, 11-4, 13-11, Mouma Das bt Shweta Parte 7-11, 11-7, 11-3, 9-11, 11-9, K. Shamini bt Shruti Talnikar 11-8, 11-9, 11-4), West Bengal bt Tamil Nadu 3-1 (Mousumi Paul bt Amrutha Pushpak 9-11, 13-11, 12-10, 11-7, Shreya Ghosh lost to Reeth Rishya 6-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 9-11, Anindita Chakraborty bt Vidya Narasimhan 13-11, 11-4, 12-10, Mousumi Paul bt Reeth Rishya 11-9, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8).