Event Section
Manav-Archana pair takes on Sharath-Manika duo in mixed doubles final


Cuttack, January 7: The Asian Games bronze medal winning mixed pair of A. Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra, seeded No. 2, will take on the top-seeded duo of Manav Thakkar and Archana Girish Kamath in the final tomorrow.


In the semifinals of the 11Sports 80th National Table Tennis Championship, played at the Nehru Stadium here today, Manav Thakkar and Archana defeated fourth-seeded Ravindra Kotiyan and Sagarika Mukherjee of the Railways 3-0 to enter the final.


In the last edition at Ranchi, none of the PSPB pairs could enter the final as RBI emerged the champions with North Bengal settling for the silver. 


A little later, Sharath and Manika defeated the third-seeded pair of Sourav Saha and Suthirtha Mukherjee of Haryana 3-1.


After a long and weary third day’s play with the team finals going late into the night, the jaded top players needed some rest before resuming the fourth day with just two rounds—quarterfinals and semifinals— on the fourth day. Even otherwise, they didn’t have to worry about the singles qualifications scheduled for the day as they were all enjoying the immunity of being among the top 16 in national ranking.


The rest must have done a lot of good to these players, particularly the top four seeded duos who made it to the semifinals, keeping their seeding positions intact.


In the first semifinal, Manav and Archana combined so well that they disposed of the Railways pair in less than 15 minutes as they won in straight games. In fact, there was some resistance coming from the Railways pair and that too in the last game. By then Manav and Archana have almost wrapped the match.


However, Sharath and Manika, who led 2-0, dropped the third game, after leveling the game at 3-3 to lead 9-5. Some rash shots forced the second-seeded pair on the back foot as after the Haryana duo picked four points in a row to level 9-9 and from there they easily picked the last two points to make a match of it.


In the fourth, Sharath and Manika opened well and surged into a decent lead. But both Sourav Saha and Suthirta Mukherjee fought back well to close too close for the PSPB pair’s comfort. But then Sharath returned a scorching backhand when Suthirta served which brooked no challenge from Sourav. At 10-9, the PSPB duo kept their nerves and pulled it on without wasting any more time and energy.  


The winning pair stands to gain Rs. 25,000 in prize money while the runners-up will receive half the amount.


After the qualification rounds in singles today, the main draw begins tomorrow.


The results:


Mixed DoublesSemi-finals: Manav Thakkar & Archana Kamath (PSPB) bt Ravindra Kotiyan & Sagarika Mukherjee (RSPB) 11-3, 11-5, 11-7; A. Sharath Kamal & Manika Batra (PSPB) bt Sourav Saha & Sutirtha Mukherjee (Har) 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9.  


Quarterfinals: Manav & Archana bt Abhishek Yadav & Suhana Narjinary (UP) 11-7, 11-7, 11-6; Ravindra & Sagarika bt Ronit Bhanja & Ayhika Mukherjee (WB) 8-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7; Sourav & Sutirtha (Har) bt S.F.R. Snehit & Sreeja Akula (Tel) 11-5, 3-11, 11-6, 11-7; Sharath & Manika bt Asif Khan & Priyanka Pareek (Raj) 13-11, 11-7, 14-12.