Having finished with a silver in the previous edition of the Kerala National Games in 2015, Gujarat (men) and West Bengal (women) did one better by winning the gold in the table tennis event of the Games in Surat on Wednesday.
Host Gujarat couldn’t have asked for a better outcome as it put up a top-class performance defeating Delhi 3-0 in the final. Earlier, West Bengal’s experience came to the fore as its women’s team won the gold, defeating a youthful Maharashtra 3-1 in the summit clash.
Gujarat, the top seed, has played true to form, winning all its group matches and knockouts in regal 3-0 fashion.
Manav Thakkar raced past Sudhanshu Grover 11-3, 13-11, 14-12 in the first rubber while Harmeet Desai was flawless in his 11-7, 11-3, 12-10 win over 17-year-old Payas Jain in the second tie. Manush Shah drubbed Yashansh Malik 11-4, 11-9, 11-4 in the third match.
In the women’s summit clash, Ayhika Mukherjee gave Bengal a headstart with an easy 11-3, 11-5, 11-3 win over Swastika Ghosh. Swastika was all at sea to the spin employed by Ayhika through her soft-pimpled rubber on her forehand.
After Reeth beat Sutirtha in three straight games in the second tie, the onus fell on the 38-year-old Mouma Das in the crucial third rubber. The veteran didn’t disappoint, proving that motherhood hasn’t dulled her instincts and fighting spirit one bit. Mouma saved two match points at 9-10 & 10-11 in the fourth game to script a five-game win over Diya Chitale.
In a match that saw fortunes fluctuating, Sutirtha outwitted Swastika in five games to win the fourth tie.
Men: Gujarat bt Delhi 3-0 (Manav Thakkar bt Sudhanshu Grover 11-3, 13-11, 14-12; Harmeet Desai bt Payas Jain 11-7, 11-3, 12-10; Manush Shah bt Yashansh Malik 11-4, 11-9, 11-4).
Women: West Bengal bt Maharashtra 3-1 (Ayhika Mukherjee bt Swastika Ghosh 11-3, 11-5, 11-3; Sutirtha Mukherjee lost to Reeth Rishya 9-11, 11-13, 9-11; Mouma Das bt Diya Chitale 6-11, 16-14, 10-12, 14-12, 11-6; Sutirtha bt Swastika 11-4, 11-13, 11-9, 10-12, 11-6).