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PSPB reigns supreme

By S. Sabanayakan

JAMSHEDPUR, FEB. 1. Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) teams emerged champions in the 60th inter-zonal inter-State badminton tournament for the fifth consecutive time, beating Kerala in both the men's and the women's finals. The PSPB men won 3-0 while the women's side won 2-0 at the Mohan Ahuja Stadium here on Tuesday.

The only match that went to the distance was the second singles game between Arvind Bhat (PSPB) and Thomas Kurian (Kerala).

In the semifinals, last year's runners-up in the team championship, Railways men and Assam women were shocked by Kerala teams.

The men's contest went to the wire with the doubles deciding the winner. Kerala needed to win one singles match and that was accomplished by Thomas Kurian beating Arup Baidya.

Railways could win only the first and third singles to lose 2-3. The absence of Krishna Deka Raja, who carried the Assam women's team to the final last year, meant Kerala made it to the final winning the semifinals 2-0.

PSPB moved into the finals of both section from the top half beating Maharashtra 3-0 in the men's group and 2-0 in the women's category.

Interestingly, reigning National champion Anand was taken to three games by former junior National champion Anand Pawar.

Gopi for All-England

Pullela Gopi Chand has been named in the Indian contingent for the German Open and All-England championship in later part of February and early March.

A winner of the All-England championship in 2001, he failed to retain the title the next year before injury sidelined him from active play.

He returns to the All-England after a gap of two years.

The German Open will be played from February 28 to March 5 at Dusseldorf and the All-England championship at Birmingham from March 8 to 13.

The results: Team championship: Men: PSPB bt Kerala 3-0 (B. Chetan Anand bt Joy T. Anthony 15-1, 15-8; Arvind Bhat bt Thomas Kurian 17-14, 16-17, 15-9; K.T. Rupesh Kumar & V. Diju bt Jaseel P. Ismail & Sanave Thomas 15-4, 15-2). Semifinals: PSPB bt Maharashtra 3-0 (Chetan Anand bt Anand Pawar 7-15, 15-7, 15-7; Anup Sridhar bt Rutuparna Kulkarni 15-6, 15-10; Markose Bristow & Rupesh Kumar bt Amrish Shinde & M. Ghatnekar 15-7, 15-6); Kerala bt Railways 3-2 (K.A. Anish lost to Mangarish Palekar 6-15, 7-15; Thomas Kurian bt Arup Baidya 15-4, 15-13; S. Thomas & G. Thomas bt M. Palekar & M. Hazarnis 15-4, 15-10; Joy T. Antony lost to Hemant Duggal 1-15, 6-15; Jaseel P. Ismail & J. Xavier bt V. Singh & A. Baidya 15-4, 15-4).

Women: PSPB bt Kerala 2-0 (Aparna Popat bt Aparna Balan 11-1, 11-7; J. Gutta & S. Kurian bt A. Balan & Fathima Nazneen Md. Semifinals: PSPB bt Maharashtra 2-0 (Trupti Murgunde bt Gayatri Kotchak 11-2, 11-2; J. Gutta & S. Kurian bt A. Deodhar & G. Kotchak 15-4, 15-8); Kerala bt Assam 2-0 (A. Balan bt B. Basumatary 11-2, 8-11, 11-3; Balan & Fatima Md. bt O. Deka & B. Basumatary 15-12, 15-5).

Seedings for Nationals:

Men: Singles: 1. Arvind Bhat (Pet), 2. Anup Sridhar (Pet), 3. B. Chetan Anand (Pet), 4. Nikhil Kanetkar (Pet), 5. Utsav Mishra (UP), 6. J.B.S. Vidyadhar (Pet), 7. Thomas Kurian (Ker), 8. Abhinn Shyam Gupta (Pet), 9. Hemant Duggal (Rly), 10. Arup Baidya (Rly), 11. Rohan Castelino (Kar), 12. Rutuparna Kulkarni (Mah), 13. Ravinder Singh (UP), 14. Mangarish Palekar (Rly), 15. C.M. Shashidhar (AP), 16. Nishad Dravid (Mah).

Women: Singles: 1. Trupti Murgunde (Pet), 2. B.R. Meenakshi (Pet), 3. Aditi Biswas (Kar), 4. Aparna Popat (Pet), 5. C.H. Deepthi (Pet), 6. Krishna Deka Raja (Asm), 7. J. Sarada Govardhani (AP), 8. Jwala Gutta (Pet), 9. Dhanya Nair (Rly), 10. Aparna Balan (Ker), 11. Shruthi Kurian (Pet), 12. Neha Makwana (Rly), 13. B. Srilakshmi (AP), 14. Amrita Mukherjee (Ben), 15. Merit George (Ker), 16. T. Sowmya (AP).

Squad for German Open and All-England championship: Men: Arvind Bhat, Anup Sridhar, B. Chetan Anand, P. Gopi Chand, K.T. Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas (all PSPB). Women: Aparna Popat, Trupti Murgunde, Jwala Gutta and Shruthi Kurian (all PSPB)

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