Intriguing battles


IN the last decade, the National and inter-State table tennis championship has been marked by the dominance of the Petroleum Sports Control Board. Considering its policy of recruiting the top players, the petroleum sector seldom provides any chance for the other sides to triumph, whether in the individual or team events.

Soumyadeep Roy the champion in the men's singles.-SANDEEP SAXENA

On this count, the 63rd edition held in the Capital, proved an exception. It was a welcome change to deviate from the results on the predictable lines.

The six-day championship witnessed intriguing battles, two of them really stood out. First, it was the loss of the PSCB men to Railways. That battle saw the emergence of Sourav Chakraborty. The 17-year-old got past Soumyadeep Roy and S. Raman to script a memorable 3-2 win for Railways. For the top-ranked Soumyadeep, it was a shocking final as he also lost to Ranabir Das.

Second, it was the men's final between defending champion Soumyadeep and Sourav. Considering Soumyadeep's image - he took a severe beating in the final of the team event - there was more at stake for him when he took on Sourav. And Soumyadeep did avenge his defeat and that too in fine style.

Mouma Das the champion in the women's singles.-SANDEEP SAXENA

In the women's section, which too witnessed some exciting contests in the individual section, Mouma Das won her second title. She eased past Mantu Ghosh in straight games in the final.

For Mantu, who reached the final after a gap of nine years, it was rather disappointing to the lose the way, as she did after saving two match points in the semifinal against Anandita Chakraborty.

Arunava Ganguly and Anal Kashyap, the winners of the men's doubles title.-SANDEEP SAXENA

Even in the team event, it was Mouma, who was instrumental in notching up 3-1 win for PSCB, over Railways. The diminutive player won both her matches, beating Nandita Saha and Anandita. Mouma also triumphed in the women's doubles, partnering Poulomi Ghatak.

Without doubt, the climactic end in which Soumyadeep got past Sourav was the highlight of the championship. Nineteen-year-old Soumyadeep, who became the youngest National champion by winning in Cuttack in the previous edition, was under pressure not only to salvage his pride but also to keep his record intact. If Sourav had triumphed in the final, he would have ended up replacing Soumyadeep as the youngest winner of the coveted title.

Though Soumyadeep had not performed well on his way to the final, he managed to avenge his defeat and that too, with a flurry of winners. Soumyadeep won 17-19, 11-4, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 to pocket Rs. 1,00,000.

Ranabir Das and Anandita Chakraborty with the mixed doubles trophy.-SANDEEP SAXENA

Sourav, who impressed with his serve variations and ability to control rallies from close to the table, looked as if he was overawed by the occasion. But the way he managed to get past Arup Basak and S. Raman in the quarterfinal and semifinal, respectively, the teenager proved his victories in the team event final were no fluke.

If one had gone by the pre-championship performances to pick the favourite, Soumyadeep surely headed the list. But the way Sourav challenged all the established competitors, the perception changed dramatically and the youngster deserved the credit for creating such a fine impression.

Like Soumyadeep, Mouma too struggled on her way to the final. She was down three match points against M. S. Mythili in the quarterfinal and was in a spot of bother against Vishakha Vijay in the semifinal. But the 18-year-old Mouma's resilience came to the fore on both the occasions. And in the final, Mouma hardly gave any room to Mantu to settle down and proved an easy winner.

The victorious PSCB team.-SANDEEP SAXENA

In the individual section, the surprise results included R. Rajesh's (Tamil Nadu) win over second seeded Ranabir Das in the men's prequarterfinal. In the women's quarterfinals, Rajasthan's Vishakha ousted defending champion Poulomi Ghatak while the National Games gold medallist N. R. Indu lost to Anandita.

The Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) did well to conduct the championship, after it was postponed in January. Despite taking the initiative, the TTFI spoiled the premier event to some extent by disturbing the schedule frequently. Needless to say, the arrangement for the media, as in most of the National championships, was hardly up to the desired standards.

The results:

Men (final): Soumyadeep Roy (PSCB) bt Sourav Chakraborty (Rly) 17-19, 11-4, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8. Semifinals: Soumyadeep bt Subhajit Saha Sr. (PSCB) 3-11, 15-13, 11-9, 11-7, 13-15, 11-4; Sourav bt S. Raman (PSCB) 11-2, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6. Quarterfinals: Soumyadeep bt Shubham Chowdhary (Rly) 12-10, 11-13, 3-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9; Subhajit Saha Sr. bt Shibaji Datta (PSCB) 3-11, 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 12-10, 13-15, 11-7; Sourav bt Arup Basak (PSCB) 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9; S. Raman bt R. Rajesh (TN) 12-10, 11-6, 11-9, 11-6.

Mouma Das and Poulomi Ghatak, the women's doubles winners.-SANDEEP SAXENA

Women (final): Mouma Das (PSCB) bt Mantu Ghosh (PSCB) 11-4, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8. Semifinals: Mouma bt Vishakha Vijay (Raj) 5-11, 11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-3; Mantu bt Anandita Chakraborty (Rly) 9-11, 11-4, 7-11, 15-13, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9. Quarterfinals: Mouma bt M. S. Mythili (PSCB) 7-11, 11-7, 12-14, 3-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5; Vishakha bt Poulomi Ghatak (PSCB) 6-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6; Mantu bt T. Pradeepa (TN) 11-13, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-4, 8-11, 11-8; Anandita bt N. R. Indu (PSCB) 7-11, 11-8, 11-2, 4-11, 11-9, 11-6.

Men's doubles (final): Anal Kashyap and Arunava Ganguly (Raj) bt Ajay Jha and Rajiv Ghai (Del) 7-1, 11-4, 11-9, 11-3. Semifinals: Jha and Ghai bt Nachiket Chawate and Nishant Kulkarni (Mah 'A') 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9; Kashyap and Ganguly bt Mukul Boro and Kishyalaya Basak (Asm) 11-2, 2-11, 11-7, 11-7.

Women's doubles (final): Mouma Das and Poulomi Ghatak (PSCB) bt Mantu Ghosh (PSCB) and Anandita Chakraborty (Rly) 11-7, 11-5, 10-12, 11-9. Semifinals: Mouma and Poulomi bt Vishakha Vijay and Poonam Sharma (Raj) 11-0, 11-5, 11-3; Mantu and Anandita bt N. R. Indu and M. S. Mythili (PSCB) 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 2-11, 11-6.

Mixed doubles (final): Ranabir Das and Anandita Chakraborty (Rly) bt Arup Basak and Mouma Das (PSCB) 5-11, 7-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-8. Semifinals: Ranabir and Anandita bt Sourav Chakraborty and Moushmi Pal (Rly) 11-6, 13-11, 8-11, 11-5; Arup and Mouma bt Deepak Thukral and Kanchan Basak (Pun) 11-8, 11-6, 11-5.

Team events:

Men (final): Railways bt PSCB 3-2 (Sourav Chakraborty bt Soumyadeep Roy 11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 14-12; Ranabir Das lost to S. Raman 2-11, 11-9, 11-13, 9-11; A. Sharath Kamal lost Arup Basak 11-9, 9-11, 10-12, 12-14; Ranabir bt Soumyadeep 11-4, 11-7, 15-13; Sourav bt Raman 11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 7-11, 11-3).

Semifinals: PSCB bt Bengal 3-0 (S. Raman bt Arjun Datta 13-15, 11-8, 11-6, 9-11, 11-8; Soumyadeep bt Amit Das 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 15-13; Arup bt Prithiraj Bose 11-8, 11-5, 10-12, 11-2). Railways bt Tamil Nadu 3-0 (Sourav bt R. Rajesh 11-6, 11-5, 11-6; Ranabir bt K. Srivasta Chakraborty 11-6, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7; Sharath Kamal bt S. Raja 11-1, 11-9, 11-6).

The triumphant Railways team.-SANDEEP SAXENA

Women (final): PSCB bt Railways 3-1 (Mouma Das bt Nandita Saha 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6; N. R. Indu bt Anandita Chakraborty 11-7, 11-6, 11-13, 11-9; M. S. Mythili lost to Sushmita Roy 9-11, 9-11, 7-11; Mouma bt Anandita 9-11, 13-11, 11-8, 13-15, 11-8).

Semifinals: PSCB bt Tamil Nadu 3-1 (Poulomi Ghatak bt B. Bhuvaneshwari 11-5, 11-6, 11-9; Mouma bt T. Pradeepa 11-6, 11-8, 11-6; Mantu lost to N. Arul Selvi 8-11, 9-11, 11-7, 10-12; Poulomi bt T. Pradeepa 11-6, 11-5, 11-8). Railways bt Maharashtra 'B' 3-0 (Nandita bt Shruti Gokhale 11-7, 11-4, 11-6; Anandita bt Kshipra Gogate 11-7, 11-7, 11-8; Sushmita bt Shradha Shastri 11-7, 11-5, 11-9).