Puducherry, Jan 12 (IANS) The Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) women’s team was the first one to enter the pre-quarterfinals of the 76th table tennis Senior Nationals which began at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium here Monday.
Their men’s team, pooled with five teams in Group A, had notched up two 3-0 wins against Odisha and Telangana in the morning and was very much on their way of making the Stage 2 cut. But they have two more matches to play for a clear picture to emerge. Telangana, thought lost to PSPB, could be the second team to qualify for the main draw from the group.
As for PSPB women, they downed both Andhra Pradesh and Bihar with an identical margin of 3-0 and they executed the job against Bihar with the help of Poulami Ghatak, Mouma Das and K. Shamini while against Andhra they employed both Ankita Das and Manika Batra to prepare them for the battles ahead along with Shamini.
In Group B, North Bengal beat Madhya Pradesh 3-0 and their paddlers are slated to take on Assam next. But their passage to the pre-quarters is more or less sealed.
Similarly, West Bengal from Group C, Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Telangana from Group D, Delhi from Group E have almost booked their Stage 2 berths while with just one set of matches having been played in Groups F, G and H, things will be clear only on the morrow.
However, the most interesting match was the one between Karnataka and Maharashtra B, last year’s quarter-finalist and Group H leader. Karnataka, driven by Swetha Kumarvel and junior national champion Archana Kamath, upset Maharashtra B 3-2.
Archana and Swetha provided Karnataka with a 2-0 lead but Maharashtra B nullified it when Vedika Garg and Mallika Bhadarkar beat Spoorthi Venkatashan and Archana, respectively, in the reverse singles.
Mallika had to bring out her best against Archana to win 4-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-6, 14-12. But Swetha took care of Karnataka’s interest with a 11-9, 11-7, 11-13, 11-3 triumph over Devika Bhide.
This victory must put Karnataka in a better frame of mind and with matches against Kerala and Tripura. Maharashtra, despite their early loss, should look ahead to qualify as the second team from Group H.
The men’s affair is still far from clear as teams have played just two sets of matches with two to go. The results so far indicate easy Stage 2 passage to all the fancied teams, leaving the contest for the second slots in each group to the rest in fray.
PSPB men lead Group A with two wins while it is Delhi in Group B, Gujarat in Group C, Haryana in Group D, Maharashtra A in Group E and RSPB in Group H. As for Group F, the fight for the top two positions are among Maharashtra B, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as they have a win each while the position in Group G is similar to Group F with Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and Karnataka having a victory each.