Dharwad (Karnataka), Aug 23 (IANS) Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) men were at the doorstep of retaining the team championship title when they beat Airports Authority of India (AAI) 3-1 in the semi-finals of the Inter-Institutional Table Tennis event at the District Indoor Hall here Friday.
They were joined in the final by Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) men who were made to struggle a bit by a resolute Food Corporation of India (FCI) in the other semifinal. RSPB won 3-1.
PSPB women too entered the final beating Indian Bank 3-0. In the other semifinal, AAI defeated RSPB 3-1 to enter their second final. They had beaten the same opponents at Burnpur (West Bengal) for their maiden entry two years ago. Both the finals are slated for Saturday afternoon.
PSPB men, for strange reasons had benched both Soumyadeep Roy and Anthony Amalraj, and preferred youngsters Sanil Shetty, Soumyajit Ghosh and Harmeet Desai. No doubt, southpaw Sanil played an excellent match that saw a few long rallies and topspin play against Nithin Thiruvengadam to win 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-9. But Sanil, with bagful of tricks, put PSPB 1-0. Then Ghosh accounted for Raj Mondal, who only this year graduated from Youth Boys, 11-8, 11-6, 14-12. Harmeet Desai lost to Sushmit Sriram, AAI's main player, 10-12, 11-4, 11-9, 5-11, 9-11. Desai was comfortably leading 2-1 before Sriram regrouped himself to outwit his opponent. But Ghosh beat Thiruvengadam 3-1 to wrap it up for PSPB.
Meanwhile, PSPB youth girls retained crown after a 3-2 hard-fought win over Airports Authority of India as Kritwika Sinha Roy and Ayhika Mukherjee managed to take a rubber each off Suthirtha Mukherjee and Manika Batra, respectively.
But Ankita Das turned the heat on for PSPB, winning both her singles against Nikhat Bhanu and Kritwika which made the difference in the final analysis. Ankita beat Nikhat 12-10, 11-4, 14-12 and then downed Kritwika 11-3, 11-7, 12-14, 11-9. Earlier, Suthirtha Mukherjee lost to Kritwika 11-8, 7-11, 8-11, 11-5, 8-1, but the former made up with 11-9, 11-7, 12-14, 11-4 victory over Nikhat to seal the title.
Men: Semi-finals: PSPB bt AAI 3-1, RSPB bt FCI 3-1; Quarterfinals: RSPB bt RBI 3-0, AAI bt LIC 3-0, PSPB bt Indian Audit 3-0, FCI bt Central Revenue 3-2; PQF: LIC bt Air India 3-0, FCI bt Ordnance Factories 3-0, RBI bt Defence Accounts 3-2, Indian Audit bt ESIC 3-2 (Four others teams-PSPB, RSPB, CRSCB and AAI-are directly seeded into QF).
Women: Semifinals: PSPB bt Indian Bank 3-0, AAI bt RSPB 3-1; QF: Indian Bank bt Dena Bank 3-1, RSPB bt Indian Audit 3-2, PSPB bt LIC 3-1, AAI bt Air India 3-2.
Youth Girls: AAI bt Indian Bank 3-1, PSPB bt RSPB 3-0, RSPB bt Air India 3-2, PSPB bt AAI 3-2.