All semifinals never rose to any dizzy height with a similar 3-0 score line as PSPB men defeated Gujarat, their women accounted for Airports Authority of India, North Bengal women blanked out West Bengal and West Bengal men followed suit to win over Haryana.
West Bengal men had last reached the finals at Kolkata in 2010 and for North Bengal women it is their fourth entry in final.
PSPB men, with a star cast, were never under any threat as Soumyajit Ghosh, Achanta Sharath Kamal and Harmeet Desai went about their routine in a clinical way against Gujarat to sound out a clear warning to their final opponent.
But the West Bengal team, with Soumyadeep Roy in the best form of his life, was also up to the task to outclass Haryana, whose Jubin Kumar and Sourav Chakraborty, failed to find their quarterfinal rhythm. Earlier, the Haryana duo had surpassed all expectations to beat Tamil Nadu 3-1 in the last eight.
K Shamini began the semifinal proceedings for PSPB and took less than 25 minutes to dispose of Ayhika Mukherjee, though the former gained through several negative points. However, Madhurika Patkar played true to her expectation and Krittiwika Sinha Roy was finding it difficult to counter her opponent.
There was a semblance of fight between Neha Aggarwal and Nikhat Banu, who managed to take a game off the PSPB girl, before being subdued.
But the second semifinal turned out to be a totally one-sided with six-time national champion and experienced Poulomi Ghatak and Mouma Das losing tamely to their North Bengal opponents Sukanya Bose and Sagarika Mukherjee, currently No. 1 player in the junior section.
After Nandita huffed and puffed her way to win the first singles against a determined Suthirtha—she leveled score after being 0-2 down—Mouma played a sub-par game to lose to 16-year-old Sagarika.
Poulomi, perhaps conserving her energy for the individual events, would rather like to forget her match against Sukanya Bose.
Down 0-1, Poulomi looked like coming back as she led 10-4 in the second game only to lose her way from there.
Though she did win a game, Poulomi was definitely at the receiving end. In fact, only Suthirtha, appearing in her first senior nationals, showed real tenacity in the entire West Bengal setup.
Delhi women, last year's team winners, bowed out of the championships losing 1-3 to North Bengal. In any case, Delhi had a very little chance after Neha Aggarwal, who fashioned Delhi's win at Raipur last year, was chosen to represent PSPB this year. And that took a heavy toll on Delhi's fortunes.
In the pre-quarters finals, only two matches in the men's team event—Mizoram vs Gujarat and Maharashtra B vs North Bengal—went down to the wire while the match between Maharashtra B and Gujarat in the women's affair went beyond expectations with the latter ending as the loser. Gujarat, despite leading 2-0, surrendered to the guile of Maharashtra B girls.
--IBNS (Posted on 08-01-2014)