Pune: Maharashtra’s challenge ends in the first round despite heroics from Subhankar Dey and Malvika Bansod

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Pune, 22nd February 2023: The strong title contender Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) justified their reputation by entering the final of the 84th Senior National Badminton Championship at Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex, Mhalunge-Balewadi on Wednesday. The tournament is organised by Poona District Metropolitan Badminton Association (PDMBA) under the auspices of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and Maharashtra Badminton Association and is sponsored by Dr Cyrus Poonawala and Venkey’s. PSPB will now face Manipur in the summit clash on Thursday morning session.

Manipur, which emerged as the dark horse, knocked out Haryana 3-2 in the first round. Later in the semi-finals, they scripted a sensational 3-1 win over Airport Authority of India (AAI).

Manipur’s Dingku Singh Konthoujam and Priya Devi Konjengbam gave an early start by beating AAI’s Krishna Prasad G. and Unnati Bisht 21-10, 21-13 in the mixed doubles. However, their advantage got nullified as AAI’s Kiran George scripted a comfortable victory over Maisnam Meiraba 21-14 21-16 in the men’s singles.

AAI failed to take advantage of the situation and inexperienced Maheshwari Devi Kshetrimayum displayed a superb game against international shuttler Unnati Bisht. Despite losing the first game 15-21, Maheshwari Devi came back strongly and won the next two games 21-9, 21-11, putting Manipur in lead again.
The men’s pair of Manjit Singh Khwairakpam and Dingku Singh Konthoujam didn’t lose this golden opportunity and defeated Shreesh Bisht and Kartikey Gulshan Kumar 21-13 21-15. The women’s double’s match was called off as Manipur had secured their place in the final.

Meanwhile, in a closely fought semifinal, PSPB edged out Karnataka 3-2.
In the mixed double, Chirag Shetty and Ashwini Ponnappa of PSPB defeated Sai Pratheek K. and Ashwini Bhat K. 21-9, 19-21, 21-18. However, the most shocking result came in the men’s singles as HS Prannoy went down 15-21, 16-21 to DS Saneeth. Ashmita Chaliha controlled the damage with a 21-15, 23-21 win over Karnataka’s Tanya Hemanth. However, Karnataka was in no mood to give an easy way out. They once again levelled the score as the pair of Nithin H.V. and Sai Pratheek K. defeated Manu Attri and Aditya Joshi 21-14 21-17.
All eyes were set on the crucial encounter of women’s doubles’. But, the most experienced pair of Sikki Reddy N. and Ashwini Ponnappa didn’t let their opponents put up a strong fight and ensured their entry in the final with a 21-16, 21-16 win.

Maharashtra challenge ends
Host Maharashtra failed to impress as they went down to Karnataka 2-3 in the first round. Fighting wins by Subhankar Dey and Malvika Bansod were the only consolation for the hosts.

Karnataka’s Sai Pratheek K. and Ashwini Bhat K. defeated Deep Rambhiya and Ritika Thaker 21-14, 21-16. After Subhankar Dey levelled the scores by beating Saneeth D. S. 21-16, 21-18, followed by Malvika’s 21-17, 19-21, 21-15 win over Tanya Hemanth, Maharashtra was enjoying the lead.

However, they lost momentum and Karnataka bounced back with Nithin H.V. and Sai Pratheek K beating Maharashtra’s pair of Deep Rambhiya and Akshan Shetty 21-17, 21-14 in men’s doubles. With international star Purva Barve and Ritika Thaker, hosts had high hopes in the women’s doubles’ but Shikha Gautam and Ashwini Bhat K. scripted an easy 21-11, 21-11, crushing Maharashtra’s hopes.