Jaipur, July 26 (IANS) Bolstered by the presence of Rio-bound Soumyajit Ghosh, the men’s team of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) defeated Airports Authority of India (AAI) 3-0 in the final of the 46th All India inter-institutional table tennis championships at the Sawai Mansingh Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday.
With this triumph, the PSPB paddlers had ensured that the trophy stayed with them for the 15th occasion. But even before that the PSPB’s women had paved the way with a similar verdict in their final against the same opponent to complete 13 title wins so far.
Even before the men’s final began, PSPB appeared favourites to win the title. Playing the first rubber, G. Sathiyan dictated terms against Sushmit Sriram as he surged to a 1-0 lead in just 25 minutes.
The attacking Sanil Shankar Shetty continued from where his teammate left off and went ahead despite AAI’s Sarthak Gandhi opening with a 1-0 lead. The southpaw Shetty, brushing aside the slender lead, soon took control of the proceedings to shut his opponent out.
Soumyajit, playing the third singles, began somewhat cautiously against the promising Anirban Ghosh only to take the first game with a lot to spare. By the time he had warmed up more than sufficiently and it was showing in his second game.
In the third, Anirban fought well but failed to keep the momentum which Somyajit grabbed with ease.
The strikingly palpable change in women’s line-up for the final with PSPB No.1 player Manika Batra slotted to play the lone third singles came as a surprise.
It meant K. Shamini, until then playing only the third singles, was not only to take on Archana Girish Kamath, the No. 2 player and, if need be, the fourth singles.
The experienced Mouma Das was pitted against Ayhika Mukherjee in the second singles and if the match had to stretch to the fifth rubber, she was chosen as the ideal person to break the tie. But, fortunately, the move paid off and it was a clean job done in less than an hour and a half.
Without much ado, Shamini combined well and attacked with her strokes, nicely using the flanks to outwit Archana, who was distinctly in discomfort as she failed to tackle the pace set by Shamini.
Though Archana did come back in the second game and won 11-6, it was the third game that kept pushing her in and out.
Archana kept herself in the hunt and until a string of unforced errors let the experienced Shamini off the hook.
AAI’s No. 1 player, Ayhika Mukherjee was found wanting against a veteran like Mouma, who was very deceptive with her topspin serves and scorching forehand strokes.
Ayhika did counter her well at times but Mouma, with good anticipation, smothered her opponent for a straight-games win.
Next to follow was Manika who, despite dropping the first game, steadied herself to overcome the starting trouble.