Cuttack, January 6: Mediocrity to sublime was the most apt description to put West Bengal women’s title-win over reigning champions Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), who were deservedly dumped in the final of the 11Sports 80th National Table Tennis Championship at the Nehru Stadium here today.
However, PSPB men squad kept their date with destiny and the winning tradition intact, lifting the trophy for the 21st time when they beat Gujarat 3-2 in a thrilling final with Sathiyan winning the last rubber to deny Gujarat in what would have been their first team title in their maiden foray.
No doubt, the credit should go to West Bengal achieving the feat after two year—they last won the title at the Manesar Nationals in 2016—and Mousumi Paul to give the kind of start to her team, but equal recognition should be given to PSPB team think-tank, including coach M. Gharib, who rested an in-form Archana Kamath and preferred Mouma Das, who had very little to show this season in national ranking events with mere 35 points from three appearances. In other words, in only one of those tournaments she had managed to reach the round of 32.
But more than anything else, the two singles losses that the CWG gold medal winner Manika Batra suffered, first at the hand of Mousumi Paul, a PSPB player loaned to West Bengal, and then Krittwika Sinha Roy, summed up the mood of the team which eventually lost 1-3. Madhurika, who played the second singles, posted the only win for PSPB.
The expectant crowd at the stadium cheered for Manika Batra as she took the first point but it was Mousumi Paul, though from PSPB but turning out for West Bengal, seized the opportunity when Manika was forced into playing loose shots to take lead. From there it became more of an uphill task for the CWG gold winner Manika committed far too many mistakes to make her opponent’s life easy.
So much so, Mousumi not only took the next game but was on the verge of sealing it at 11-10, just needing a point for the tie when the West Bengal paddler took an unnecessary timeout. A second opportunity also came here when she was on her second match point at 13-12 which she squandered, helping the cause of Manika to give a breather as the PSPB girl won the game 15-13.
Drawing confidence from that win, Manika equalled the score and despite Mousumi taking a slender lead the former was in with a chance to put her side on 1-0 up at 10-9. But, this time, Mousumi deuced and took the game on extended points.
Madhurika, despite dropping a game, beat Krittwika Sinha to level the score but Mouma lost badly against Ayhika Mukherjee to take West Bengal one tie closer to title which was sealed by Krittwika Sinha Roy after trailing 1-2. Manika’s backhand was awful on the evening and she was committing far too many mistakes to make things easier for West Bengal.
Sharath Kamal, as usual, provided the lead with an easy win over Ishaan Hingorani which was later consolidated by G. Sathiyan against Harmeet Desai. It became a cliffhanger when Harmeet made it 2-2 before Sathiyan wrapped it up 3-2 to put PSPB ahead.
Amalraj, playing the third singles, could not overcome a rampaging Guajrat left-hander and Junior and Youth National champion, Manush Shah, as the former national champion lost tamely (0-3). Manush, running a fine form, never allowed any liberty to the experienced Amalraj which put the extra burden on Sharath, forcing him to play the reverse singles.
And the pressure was palpable on the torch-bearer of Indian table tennis and so much so Sharth, after leading 3-0, 6-3, 9-6 in the fifth game, allowed Harmeet take five points on the trot to make it 2-2 before Sathiyan cleaned up Ishaan in straight games to retain the title.
Results: Team Events:
Women: Final: West Bengal bt PSPB 3-1 (Mousumi Paul bt Manika Batra 11-8, 11-5, 13-15, 6-11, 12-10; Krittwika Sinha Roy lost to Madhurika Patkar 8-11, 3-11, 13-11, 8-11; Ayhika Mukherjee bt Mouma Das 11-9, 14-12, 11-6; Krittwika Sinha Roy bt Manika Batra 11-7, 5-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-8); Semifinals: PSPB bt Maharashtra B 3-0 (Mouma Das bt Anannya Basak 11-9, 6-11, 11-4, 11-7; Manika Batra bt Diya Chitale 11-4, 11-5, 11-7; Madhurika Patkar bt Shweta Parte 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 12-10); West Bengal bt Airport Authority of India 3-0 (Krittwika Sinha Roy bt Surbhi Patwari 11-8, 11-7, 11-4; Mousumi Paul bt Mallika Bhandarkar 11-6, 11-8, 11-4; Prapti Sen bt Moumita Dutta 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-2).
Men: Final: PSPB bt Gujarat 3-2 (Sharath Kamal bt Ishaan Hingorani 16-14, 11-4, 11-3, G. Sathiyan bt Harmeet Desai 6-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-7, A. Amalraj lost to Manush Shah 5-11, 10-12, 9-11, Sharath Kamal lost to Harmeet Desai 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-4, 9-11, G. Sathiyan bt Ishaan Hingorani 11-6, 11-6, 11-7); Semifinals: PSPB bt Delhi 3-0 (Manav Thakkar bt Parth Virmani 9-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-6, 11-3; G. Sathiyan bt Payas Jain 11-5, 11-5, 11-8; Sudhanshu Grover bt Utkarsh Gupta 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-3); Gujarat bt Uttar Pradesh 3-1 (Harmeet Desai bt Abhinav Belwal 11-5, 11-3, 11-6; Manush Shah bt Abhishek Yadav 11-8, 11-9, 11-5; Jalay Mehta lost to Sarthak Seth 11-4, 11-13, 7-11, 9-11; Harmeet Desai bt Abhishek Yadav 11-9, 11-5, 11-5).
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