Manesar (Haryana), February 2: Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) huffed and puffed their way to retain the Barna Ballack Cup for the 19th occasion beating Haryana 3-2 in the final of the 78th 11Even Sports Senior Nationals at the Manesar Sports Club here today.
The win was crucial for their men team that played without A. Sharath Kamal in it and especially after losing their hold on the Jayalakshmi Cup which went the way of West Bengal who defeated Maharashtra 3-0.
A much relieved Amalraj admitted the pressure after having lost his first singles to
Soumyajit Ghosh. “I was, indeed, under pressure. In the fourth game, Sourav was leading 10-8 and I told myself to play my game. I did precisely that at that time and it paid off,” he said.
G. Sathiyan, who had lost his reverse singles to Ghosh, said: “I am happy Amalraj pulled it off. We needed to win to retain at least one title.”
Haryana’s import Ghosh played his part really well and upped the ante to make it 2-2 after both Saha and Jubin had conceded the lead to PSPB. Ghosh was in his zone and even Sathiyan, an attacking palyer, had fewer answers to his opponent’s variety play.
In the end, Haryana who hoped to win their first title had to satisfy with the silver medal which they have retained for the second successive year.
West Bengal had to wait for 19 years to win their fourth title, the previous three coming in the years 1973, 1994, 1998. Fortunately, Anindita Chakraborty was a part of the winning squad in 1998 that had Mantu Ghosh, Kasturi Chakraborty and Mouma Das, who now plays for PSPB, at the Jammu nationals.
Anindita put it more aptly after the final: “I feel honoured to have been a party to both wins. This time I win my matches and it is more than a satisfying outing for me,” said the veteran who was loaned by the Railways to West Bengal.
Suthirtha too, was happy. “I am happy we could pull it easily against Maharashtra. They played truly well against PSPB and that was always at the back of our mind. But we played consistently.”
As for the final, it was a foregone conclusion. Maharashtra’s Pooja Sahasrabuddhe, Charvi Kawle and Shruti Amrute were no match to the Bengal side, comprising Krittwika Sinha Roy, Suthirtha Mukherjee and Anindita and it proved to be so.
Pooja did give some hopes in the first rubber when she staged a comeback to level the score after being down 0-2. With the score reading 7-7 in the decider, the Maharashtra paddler failed to capitalize on an error-prone Kritwika who claimed the next four points without a fuss, thanks Pooja’s contribution!
Suthirtha took the first singles easily but struggled for ball control in the second. Yet, she managed to win it on extended points and the next as well against Charvi. Their third best Shruti was a mere pedestrian against the guile of experienced Anindita, whose forehand even today packs a lot of punch.
Shruti’s win crucial
In women’s semifinals, it had all boiled down to that third singles which Maharashtra won. When left-handed Shruti Amrute, a junior player, beat an in-form Mousumi Paul it was all over bar the shouting for PSPB. But then Pooja Sahasrabuddhe, who had given Maharashtra a flying start when she defeated Madhurika Patkar, had to win against the tricky Mouma Das to seal their final berth because if Mouma had won the fourth rubber, PSPB could have fancied their chances with Madhurika to follow against Charvi Kawle.
However, Pooja who failed to find a place in the PSPB squad and turning out for Maharashtra had a bad start and yet managed to go 2-1 up. But Mouma, with her never-say-die attitude, troubled Pooja with her trademark backhand blocks and returns. Equally forceful was her forehand as she made it 2-2 to give PSPB semblance of a chance.
But Pooja rose to the occasion, firing in a few accurate winners to up the ante. She was 8-2 up but floundered with her pushes which allowed Mouma close in on her with six straight points to just a solitary point by Pooja. At 10-9 Pooja’s forehand did the trick as Mouma’s return went wide and way off the mark, much to the relief of Pooja and Maharashtra.
For West Bengal, it was rather easy against the Airports Authority of India women. And the 3-0 score line also suggests the domination of the Bengal paddlers throughout.
In comparison, the men semifinals never touched any height that one normally associates them with at this level. Both were boring and one-sided as PSPB steamrolled Gujarat and Haryana did the same to West Bengal with 3-0 verdicts.
Action in individual events already having begun, plot thickens with the arrival of A. Sharath Kamal who failed to get a team entry from PSPB.
Men Final: PSPB bt Haryana 3-2 (G. Sathiyan bt Sourav Saha 11-9, 10-12, 11-6, 11-9, Anthony Amalraj lost to Soumyajit Ghosh 9-11, 5-11, 4-11, Harmeet Desai bt Jubin Kumar 12-10, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5, Sathiyan lost to Soumyajit 8-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-13, Amalraj bt Sourav Saha 7-11, 11-8, 12-10, 13-11); Semifinals: PSPB bt Gujarat 3-0 (Anthony Amalraj bt Ishaan Hingorani 11-6, 11-6, 11-6, G. Sathiyan bt Harsh Sachanandani 11-8, 11-8, 11-8, Sanil Shetty bt Kaushal Bhatt 11-3, 11-5, 12-10), Haryana bt West Bengal 3-0 (Jubin Kumar bt Arjun Ghosh 12-14, 11-6, 11-3, 12-10, Soumyajit Ghosh bt Anirban Nandi 11-8, 11-9, 11-5, SouravSaha bt Sougata Srkar 5-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7).
Women Final: West Bengal bt Maharashtra A 3-0 (Krittwika Sinha roy bt Pooja Sahasrabuddhe 11-5, 11-9, 4-11, 11-13, 11-7, Suthirtha Mukherjee bt Charvi Kawle 11-4, 12-10, 11-6, Anindita Chakraborty bt Shruti Amrute 11-6, 11-9, 11-5); Semifinals: Maharashtra A bt PSPB 3-1 (Pooja bt Madhurika Patkar 11-9, 12-10, 11-6, Charvi Kawle lost to Mouma Das 6-11, 3-11, 8-11, Shruti Amrute bt Mousumi Paul 11-7, 11-5, 11-5, Pooja Sahasrabuddhe bt Mouma Das 9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 10-12, 11-9), West Bengal bt AAI 3-0 (Krittwika bt Archana Kamath 11-9, 11-8, 11-9, Suthirtha bt Ayhika Mukherjee 11-4, 12-10, 11-5, Anindita bt Frenaz Chipia 5-11, 12-10, 16-14, 111-9).
- Rest of Information coming soon
- A few departures: Ghosh turns out for Haryana, Sharath in singles only
- History repeats itself for Pondicherry; Haryana teams qualify for main draw
- Jubin pulls it off for Haryana after Sarthak's fine efforts
- Maharashtra team sends PSPB women packing
- Sharath returns to where he belongs
- Third-seed Mouma goes down to qualifier Shreya
- 2 men, 3 women seeds fall; 3 others just sprout
- Manesar and Sharath prove a point; Madhurika is new women champion