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The Telegraph Cup Badminton 2012
High flier: IBM and ITC Team A sweat it out for The Telegraph Silver Plate.

What: The finals of The Telegraph Cup Badminton 2012.

Where: The Saturday Club.

When: March 4, evening.

The teams: After a week of hard-fought action, Team Nicco played Team Cognizant for The Telegraph Gold Cup trophy while Team IBM and ITC Team A battled it out for The Telegraph Silver Plate trophy. Nerves and serves: The final day was a battle of nerves. With every smash hit or point scored, cheers and claps reverberated around the court. The opposing cheer squad, of course, responded with “cool down” and “buck up” calls to its players.

While IBM beat ITC Team A in two straight sets and won the Silver Plate, The Telegraph Gold Cup finals was a tougher contest. The face-off between Nicco and Cognizant saw three matches, in the best-of-three format. Finally, Team Nicco emerged champions, 20-22, 21-14, 21-7/ 11-21, 8-21/21-9, 21-6.

Golden handshake: Players greet one another after Nicco beat Cognizant in a closely fought match to lift The Telegraph Gold Cup.

Club speak: “This year we had an overwhelming response from the corporate teams. It is because of their support that this tournament has gone from strength to strength. It has become the most contested and popular badminton championship in Calcutta,” said Jagpal Singh, sports convener of the club.

Kapil Bhan of Team Nicco has been playing in The Telegraph Badminton Cup since its inception in 1984. And though 59, his zest for the game hasn’t diminished. “There is a lot of nostalgia associated with this tournament. It feels good to see so many youngsters playing; reminds me of my young days. When I play now, my mind wants to reach the shuttle but my body can’t. It is my passion for the game that keeps me going,” smiled the baddy buff.

Radhu Das, 79, the chief referee of The Telegraph Cup Badminton 2012, is also the baddy coach of the Saturday Club team. Being in the racket-shuttle circuit for over 50 years as an international player, coach and referee, Das is the man every player at the club looks up to, literally! After the finals on Sunday, t2 had a quick chat with him.

When did you start playing badminton?

I was eight years old when I started. My mother used to give me money for school tiffin and I would save that to buy the shuttle. I slowly started taking part in local tournaments, where even though I lost, I didn’t give up.

What drew you to this game?

This is one game that exercises all your body parts, starting from your head to toe, your wrist and fingers.You can’t play badminton unless you are fit and have a lot of stamina and energy.

How long have you been coaching and refereeing?

It has been more than 40 years now. I have coached international clubs too, in Copenhagen, London and Geneva. I was an ‘A’ grade state level referee and have refereed at the national level. I have been associated with The Telegraph Cup Badminton tournament since it started in 1984.

How do you keep yourself so fit at 79?

This is God-gifted! But yes, I lead a disciplined life. I have no addictions. I eat to survive, I don’t survive to eat. At my age there is nobody in Bengal who still plays badminton.

According to you what qualities must a badminton player have?

One should maintain discipline and court decorum. You need to respect your opponent, even if they are weak. Play honestly and believe in fair play.