Raman, Poulomi Ghatak corner glory

VETERAN of many a battle, S. Raman of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board, staged a grand comeback from the brink, to defeat a spirited, second-seeded Subhajit Saha in the men's final.

V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

S. Raman staged a brilliant rally to down Subhajit Saha in the final.-PICS: H. SATISH

VETERAN of many a battle, S. Raman of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board, staged a grand comeback from the brink, to defeat a spirited, second-seeded Subhajit Saha in the men's final. Poulomi Ghatak ended the dream run of the giant-killer Mamata Prabhu in the women's final in the 33rd All India Inter-institutional table tennis championship.

Poulomi Ghatak was better oganised in attack and defence to win the women's final against Mamata Prabhu.-

The championship, widely believed to be the next best after the senior Nationals in terms of competition, gave yet another opportunity for the Hyderabadis to see the cream of Indian talent battle it out for top honours, immediately after the Asian junior championship. And, by all means, the 34-year-old Raman made a telling point to prove that age is no bar as far as class is concerned. But, the seasoned campaigner's brilliant, rearguard action in the final against second-seeded Subhajit Saha to record a 7-11, 11-8, 13-15, 7-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-4 win was without doubt an object lesson for the youngsters in the art of fighting back from adversity. For someone whose backhand never really clicked and had problems in countering the topspin returns and the rolling serve of Saha, Raman did rally well after being 1-3 down in set score. The first phase of the final saw Saha virtually dictating terms for his stunning forehand crosscourt returns and the decent block earned him many points. However, what mattered in the final analysis was who had the better temperament, if not necessarily the game. Unfortunately for the 21-year-old youngster, Raman took his game to a different plane in the last three games with a high quality combination of deceptive forehand returns and often smashing returns down the line. The best part of Raman's game was the way he was in control everytime the ball was in the centre of the table.

No doubt, there was a stroke of luck when Raman's backhand gently rolled to the other side only to see Saha falter — his forehand went out. The former picked a valuable point to level the scores 10-all. Soon, a great forehand return and a deceptive serve got him two more points to help Raman take the issue to the decider. This after Saha took a handsome 8-3 lead in the sixth game and at one stage just one point away from title-triumph. And in the decider, Raman was almost unstoppable with every aspect of the game showing improvement. On the other hand, tension seemed to have got the better of Saha as his game became disjointed. Consequently, Raman emerged winner.

Arup Basak and Sharat Kamal, who won the men's doubles title.-

The women's final was a more sedate affair as Poulomi Ghatak, got the better of Mamata Prabhu. With a more organised defence, Poulomi Ghatak had the liberty to attack whenever there was an opportunity. She enjoyed attacking the corners of the table to make her opponent run around. Quite strangely, Mamata failed to produce her class. May be, here too the tension of playing a major final proved to be costly as Poulomi Ghatak emerged a 11-7, 12-10, 11-3, 11-6 victor.

The men's quarter-finals and the semi-finals didn't spring any surprises. Though seventh-seeded Sourab Chakraborty threatened to upset second-seeded Subhajit Saha in the quarter-finals by taking the issue into the seventh game when the latter clinched the issue. To the credit of Sourab, he did show remarkable resilience when under attack by an aggressive opponent. Even his block was equal to the task but in the decider, the cool temperament of Subhajit, who played a risk-free game was the decisive factor. Sourab squandered a handsome 9-5 lead, by going for ambitious strokes. Saha won 11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 13-11.

Sumona Bose and Mousomi Paul, winners of the women's doubles.-

But, clearly the most exiciting match was between the two flamboyant youngsters — the tall and lanky Sharat Kamal and the restive Ranbir Das in which the former emerged winner thanks to his long reach and better forehand. One thought Ranbir was trying a bit too much instead of playing his normal game and in the process conceded negative points.

The men's pre-quarter-final phase saw Arup Basak bowing to Sourab Chakraborty (RSPB), who emerged a 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 5-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-8 victor in another long-drawn out match. But the quarter-finals in the women's section provided the biggest upset when an unassuming, 20-year-old Mamata Prabhu (RSPB) knocked out the top-seeded N.R.Indu by her clever variations of serve, particularly the deceptive spin of her backhand serve doing most of the damage. And when the `block' was like a rock, Mamata had little problems in getting better of a more fancied opponent with a 11-6, 12-10, 4-11, 12-10, 11-3 win. The other upset of sorts was the ouster of Arjuna Awardee Montu Gosh (PSPB) by T.Pradeepa (PSPB). The score reading 11-6, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9.

Men's team champions Petroleum Sports Promotion Board.-

In the team championship, as expected, the star-studded Petroleum Sports Promotion Board comprising, S. Raman, Sharat Kamal and Soumya Deep Roy recorded a 3-0 win over RSPB. The Railway Sports Promotion Board women owed the title-win to the gritty Anindita Chakraborty, after it was off to a bad start losing the opening singles.

On the organisational front, credit for the smooth conduct of the event should go to the untiring efforts of the chief referee Atmaram Lele, who was always seen at the venue.

The results:

Men: Singles: Final: S. Raman (PSPB) bt Subhajit Saha (PSPB) 7-11, 11-8, 13-15, 7-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-4. Semi-finals: S. Raman (PSPB) bt Sharat Kamal (PSPB) 12-10, 11-5, 11-9, 8-11, 5-11, 11-6; Subhajit Saha (PSPB) bt Soumya Deep Roy (PSPB) 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7.

Doubles: Final: Arup Basak & Sharat Kamal (PSPB) bt G. Vinod & Jayant Chandra (RSPB) 13-11, 11-8, 11-9.

The Railway Sports Promotion Board team with the women's rophy-

Women: Singles: Final: Poulomi Ghatak (PSPB) bt Mamata Prabhu (RSPB) 11-7, 12-10, 11-3, 11-6. Semi-finals: Mamata Prabhu (RSPB) bt T. Pradeepa (PSPB) 4-11, 11-5, 11-6, 12-10, 9-11, 11-9; Poulomi Ghatak (PSPB) bt Mouma Das (PSPB) 11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7.

Doubles: Final: Sumona Bose & Mousomi Paul (RSPB) bt N.R. Indu & T. Pradeepa (PSPB) 11-4, 11-9, 12-14, 5-11, 11-9.

Mixed doubles: Final: Sharat Kamal & T. Pradeepa (PSPB) bt Ranbir Das & Mousomi Paul (RSPB) 11-5, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5.

Team championship: Men: Final: PSPB bt RSPB 3-0 (S. Raman bt Sourab Chakraborty 15-13, 7-11, 8-11, 11-3, 11-4; Sharat Kamal bt Ranbir Das 11-8, 11-8, 11-1; Soumya Deep Roy bt Anirban Nandy 11-5, 13-15, 15-13, 11-7).

Semi-finals: PSPB bt BSB 3-0 (Subhajit Saha bt Jignesh Jaiswal 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9; Sharat Kamal bt Vineet Chopra 11-5, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7; Arup Basak bt Pathik Mehta 11-5, 11-5, 11-13, 9-11, 11-9). RSPB bt LIC 3-0 (Sourav Chakraborty bt R. Rajesh 12-10, 11-8, 12-14, 11-9; Ranbir Das bt Vinay Baiswade 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6; Anirban Nandy bt Parag Agarwal 11-7, 11-5, 11-5).

Women: Final: RSCB bt PSPB 3-1 (Mousomi Paul lost to Mouma Das 11-2, 7-11, 8-11, 3-11; Anindita Chakraborty bt Poulomi Ghatak 11-6, 11-4, 11-7; Visahka Vijay bt T.Pradeepa 5-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-5, 11-5; Anindita Chakraborty bt Mouma Das 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9).

Semi-finals: RSPB bt BSB 3-1 (Visakha Vijay lost to K.Sahmini 7-11, 11-6, 9-11, 9-11; Anindita Chakraborty bt Arul Selvi 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-5; Mousomi Paul bt S.Prasanna 11-5, 11-6, 12-10; Anindita Chakraborty bt K. Shamini 11-4, 11-8, 11-8). PSPB bt Defence Accounts 3-0 (Montu Gosh bt Swapna Mitra 11-6, 11-8, 11-6; Mouma Das bt Manisha Chakraborty 11-9, 11-7, 11-9; N.R.Indu bt Tapasi Chakraborty 11-2, 11-5, 11-6).