Grand double for super PSPB

Badminton Inter-State Championships: Petroleum outfits reign supreme as Air India challenge falls flat in finals

By On a day when two veterans renewed their rivalry and two youngsters dished out an entertaining battle, Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) men’s and women’s teams underlined their superiority, scoring comfortable victories over Air India to retain their titles in the 67th Inter-State Senior National badminton championships on Friday.

At the KBA courts, PSPB men defeated Air India 3-1 to claim the Rahimatoola Cup while their women outclassed the same opponents 2-0 to pocket the Chadha Cup.

PSPB’s Arvind Bhat, who took the court first, got the better of his long-time rival Anand Pawar 21-16, 21-19 in a 50-minute encounter to put the holders in front. The champions didn’t look back from then on, despite a defeat in the doubles.

“This is the first time I am facing him in the Inter-State meet but we have played each other in several other tournaments. I had beaten him several times but I don’t really remember losing to Anand in big tournaments,” said Arvind.

It was then the turn of promising Sourabh Verma and Praful Joshi to take centre stage. They fought tooth and nail in the second men’s singles before Sourabh edged out his opponent to put PSPB 2-0 ahead with a 21-17, 21-19 verdict.

In a battle of teenagers, Joshi started off well and even led 16-11 in the first game. As is his wont, Sourabh took time to settle down but once he found his rhythm the 19-year-old dictated terms.

From 16-11, Sourabh scored nine points on the trot to reach game point.  That period also saw Sourabh coming up with a peach of a point, retrieving a drop shot from the point of no return.

Though, Joshi made it 17-20, Sourabh came up with a telling smash to pocket the first game 20-17.

In the second game, both players went neck-and-neck but the left-handed Joshi’s consistent net play coupled with the largesse of his rival, helped the 16-year-old to surge ahead 11-9. Sourabh adopting an aggressive approach, fought back and inched ahead to 20-19. The PSPB shuttler took the match when his opponent hit a backhand return into the net.

The champions received a setback when the combination of Valiyaveetil Diju and Arun Vishnu suffered a shock defeat to Akshay Devalkar and Manu Atri 13-21, 21-18, 21-18. Trailing 1-2, it seemed Air India would stage a fightback but B Sai Praneeth quickly dispelled any such thoughts, powering past G Gopi Raju 21-12, 21-14 to give PSPB the title.

Jayaram pulls out

Meanwhile, PSPB’s Ajay Jayaram pulled out of the Open championships due to an ankle injury. “I sprained my right ankle during the Korea Super Series. I am yet to recover fully, so I decided to opt out of the meet,” said Jayaram, who is ranked 27 in the world.


Results (finals, prefix denotes seeding):

Men (Rahimatoola Cup): 1-PSPB bt 2-Air India 3-1 (Arvind Bhat bt Anand Pawar 21-16, 21-19; Sourabh Verma bt Pratul Joshi 21-17, 21-19; Valiyaveetil Diju/ Arun Vishnu lt to Akshay Devalkar/ Manu Atri 21-13, 18-21, 18-21; B Sai Praneeth bt G Gopi Raju 21-12, 21-14)

Women (Chadha Cup): 1-PSPB bt 2-Air India 2-0 (Sindhu PV bt Tanvi Lad 21-11, 17-21, 21-10; Aparna Balan/ Prajakta Sawant bt Pradnya Gadre/ Sayali Gokhale 21-14, 21-10).

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