|Pallavi Kundu of Bengal, on Monday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta: PSPB and Bengal qualified for the pre-quarter finals, showing complete authority, in both the mens and womens team events on the opening day of the Keventer 72nd Senior National & Inter-State Table Tennis Championships, here, on Monday.
Both teams finished on top, in their respective groups, in separate team events.
PSPB, who are arguably the best in terms of both team and individual talent, began dominantly with K. Shamini, Mouma Das and Divya Deshpande winning their respective matches against opponents from Chattisgarh in the first round. The trio won in straight sets and set the tone for the mens event where Soumyadeep Roy, Sourav Chakraborty and Subhajit Saha carried the momentum to beat Andhra Pradesh.
In the second round, Shamini, Madhurika Patkar and Pooja Sahasrabudhe ensured the womens team ended on top of Group A with a 3-0 thrashing of Chandigarh. PSPB will take on Madhya Pradesh, who finished second in Group B in the pre-quarter finals on Tuesday. The mens team, too, qualified for the next stage and their campaign got a fillip when Sharath Kamal joined the squad, returning from Germany, late on Monday. Sharath came to the Netaji Indoor Stadium straight from the airport to get a feel of the event. I am just returning from Germany. I was playing till yesterday... Will play here tomorrow, he told The Telegraph.
Bengal started their campaign on a positive note, too, when Pallavi Kundu defeated Himachal Pradeshs Shally in straight games. Pallavis success rubbed off on teammates as Anindita Chakraborty and Jayeeta Pushilal defeated Kiran and Shakshi, respectively.
Anindita suffered some hiccups against Maharasthras Ruby Roy to win 3-2. Otherwise, the hosts maintained a clean slate to win the womens second round against the visitors 3-0.
In the mens event, Anirban Nandi, Sourav Saha and Souvik Kar cantered to easy wins against rivals from Chandigarh. Anirban won in straight games against Sahil Sharma, while Sourav and Souvik got the better of Vikas Sharma and Rachit Chopra, respectively, with equal ease. The hosts looked unstoppable in the second round as well when they defeated their opponents from Uttar Pradesh.
The Bengal womens team will take on Kerala in the pre-quarter finals on Tuesday, while the mens team will play Maharashtra B.
The days only upset was when Rajasthans Zubin Kumar and Pankaj beat their respective opponents from North Bengal in the first round of the mens team event. Zubin first defeated Raj Mondal 3-1 after Devesh Karia lost to Soumyajit Ghosh. Pankaj and Zubin, later on, defeated Birupaksha Saha and Soumyajit, respectively, to earn Rajasthan a 3-1 win over North Bengal.