National C'ship: PSPB clinches mixed-team event title with ease

Petroleum Sports Promotion Board bagged the mixed team title in grand style with a facile 3-0 win over Airport Authority of India in the final on Thursday, at the 72nd inter-state and inter-zonal badminton championship at the Patliputra Sports Complex.

PSPB

Petroleum and Sports Promotion Board after securing the title at the Patliputra Sports Complex.   -  Ranjeet Kumar

Since 1999, Petroleum has been unstoppable in the National badminton championships. And the 72nd inter-state and inter-zonal championship at the Patliputra Sports Complex here, followed a familiar narrative. Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) bagged the mixed team title, in grand style with a facile 3-0 win over Airport Authority of India (AAI) in the final on Thursday.

In fact, the summit clash was the easiest for PSPB in the championship as in the first two rounds against Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, it faced real resistance in either (men and women) singles or in men’s doubles. But against AAI, none of the three matches went the distance, and proved PSBB’s unquestioned authority, even when it did not have some the best of players in the business.

So much so that the first two matches - the men’s and women’s singles - were one-sided and uninteresting, to say the least. And it took the men’s doubles pairs of V. Diju- K. Tarun (PSPB) and Chirag Shetty-M.R. Arjun (AAI) to enliven the proceedings. Diju and Tarun won the tie 21-17, 21-13 and the trophy for PSPB.

Once Sourabh Varma dispatched of Pratul Joshi 21-15, 21-16 in the men’s singles, and Rituparna Das scripted a comfortable 21-9, 21-14 win over Raje Rasika in the women’s singles that was slow-paced, it was the men’s doubles clash which provided the much-needed entertainment.

Tarun is a tireless worker, with a workaholic approach to the game. And with a senior player in Diju, the duo was near-flawless. While Tarun was effective and consistent in well-directed smashes, Diju was brilliant at the net, especially in interceptions. The only time the PSBB pair was in trouble was when it trailed 11-15 in the first game.

The men’s singles saw Sourabh being in pretty much control against Pratul Joshi. Whether it was drops, crosscourt smashes or court coverage, Sourabh was a notch above Pratul. Briefly in the second game, Pratul showed glimpses of his potential, playing an array of shots at the backcourt and the forecourt, but Sourabh was always had his nose ahead.

Short circuit

For around half an hour, the men’s doubles tie was stopped midway in the second game due to short-circuit in one of the floodlights of the Sports Complex. Officials, however, quickly rectified the fault. Meanwhile, the organisers have come in for criticism from players and coaches alike for providing poor accommodation and making inadequate travel arrangements.

It is learnt that most of the teams have moved out of the hotel that was provided by the organisers. “They aren’t good enough. So we have shifted to another hotel. And moreover, we are using Ola cab to come to the venue as travel arrangements aren’t up to the mark,” said a Maharashtra player.

Badminton Association of India allotted the National championship a year ago to Bihar Badminton Association and the host had a lot of time to plan and prepare. But it is clear that it hasn't done its job properly.

The results (Final):

PSPB bt AAI 3-0 (Sourabh Varma bt Pratul Joshi 21-15, 21-16; Rituparna Das bt Raje Rasika 21-9, 21-14; V. Diju & K. Tarun bt M.R. Arjun & Chirag Shetty 21-17, 21-13).

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