Petroleum Sports Promotion Board retained the title in the 73 Inter-State inter-zonal badminton championship with 3-0 win over first-time finalist Madhya Pradesh at the Divisional Sports Complex hereon Friday.
“Ever since PSPB entered the Nationals in 2000, it had never lost the team championship,” said a visibly elated coach Manjusha Kanwar.
However, the scoreline might not actually reflect the fighting spirit shown by the relatively inexperienced MP shuttlers who ended up losers only for want of exposure as they gave the fancied opponents a run for their money.
The experienced mixed doubles combine of Pranaav Chopra and N. Sikki Reddy gave yet another winning start for PSPB with an easy 21-11, 21-12 victory over the relatively inexperienced Piyush Bobade and Shriyanshi Pardeshi in the first match of the evening.
The seasoned duo of PSPB seemed to be in a hurry coming up with their trademark smashes and delectable drops to unsettle the Madhya Pradesh duo. The few times Piyush and Shriyanshi tried to come back into the game, they were up against a combination which clearly knew when to change gears and it was no surprise when they won the match easily.
In the second match, another big name from PSPB, B. Sai Praneeth was clearly tested by Shubham Prajapati before wrapping up a 21-15, 21-18 win.
Shubham was not overawed by the reputation of the opponent’s famed skills and often matched Praneeth with some terrific forehand smashes and pretty impressive returns from seemingly difficult angles.
With Praneeth winning the match eventually, PSPB took a 2-0 lead when the proceedings were halted for a while to facilitate the arrival of the chief guest and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari before the third match commenced.
Later, even SAF Games gold medallist G. Ruthvika Shivani also had to ward off a fighting Shriyanshi Pardeshi to ensure that the issue was not stretched further for her team. She was clearly rattled by the amazing ability of her opponent in essaying some stunning returns and delectable drops.
The winner picked a prize money of Rs. 3 lakhs and the runner-up Rs. 2 lakhs from the Union Minister.
Final: PSPB bt MP 3-0 (Pranaav Chopra & N. Sikki Reddy bt Piyush Bopade & Shriyanshi Pardeshi 21-11, 21-12; B. Sai Praneeth bt Shubham Prajapati 21-15, 21-18; G. Ruthvika Shivani bt Shriyanshi Pardeshi 21-11, 19-21, 21-18).