Sutirtha & Harmeet help Bengal, Gujarat finish 1-2 in the medal tally

Surat, Sep 24 (Representative) Harmeet Desai defeated Soumyajit Ghosh 4-0, and Sutirtha Mukherjee downed Sreeja Akula 4-1 to emerge the champions at the Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya Indoor Stadium, where the table tennis events at the 36th National Games concluded here on Saturday Harmeet, the most popular paddler in the state, didn’t disappoint his fans as he demolished his Haryana rival with clinical precision. Throughout the Games, the Birmingham CWG team gold medal winner exemplified his form with superb touch, none better than in the semifinals against G. Sathiyan, the top seed. The final seemed a mismatch as Ghosh hardly showed any glimpse of a comeback and became easy prey to the Gujarat man. But Sutirtha Mukehreeje, who collected three gold medals, including in the team event, at the Games, helped West Bengal top the medal chart with eight medals—four gold, one silver and three bronze. Their men finished 1-2 in the men’s doubles and Mouma Das and Anirban Ghosh won the mixed bronze to booth their tally. Gujarat finished behind Bengal as Harmeet led the way with two gold, including in the team event, to finish with six medals.

Manush Shah and Krittwika provided the hosts with the third gold. Maharashtra finished third with one silver and four bronze medals. Sutirtha, with her ability to adapt quickly, had the measure of Sreeja right from the first point in the final, as she did against Manika in the semifinal. Running into the top gear, the West Bengal woman established a quick and sizeable lead in all the first three games. The 3-0 lead suggested a quick finish to the final, but Sreeja had other ideas. A recovery of sorts helped Sreeja take the fourth game, in which Sutirtha missed a match point. In the fifth, Sreeja carried on the momentum to lead 4-0. However, Sutirtha restored parity and comfortably led 9-8 after a timeout. Sreeja managed just a point after that as Sutirtha closed the game and match to win the gold deservingly. In the men’s first semifinal, Harmeet Desai kept his date with destiny and beat top-seed G. Sathiyan 4-2. Harmeet raised his game so well that Sathiyan was forced on the back foot straight away.

Yet, Sathiyan fought back to level 2-2, but the local man mixed it up well when Sathiyan started posing troubles. Harmeet wrapped it up early with his deft manoeuvres at the net and using his backhand flicks effectively. In the second, making most of a walkover yesterday from second-seed A. Sharath Kamal, Haryana’s Soumyajit Ghosh defeated Manush Shah of Gujarat 4-2. The left-handed Manush did manage to win two games but couldn’t stop the determined Haryana paddler. In the mixed doubles, however, Manush Shah made amends to grab the gold, beating Telangana’s pair of SFR Snehit and Sreeja Akula 3-0. The straight-game win was on the cards as the Gujarat duo never let the guard down, pushing their opponents to the brink. In the all-Bengal men’s doubles final, Ronit Bhanja and Jeet Chandra made it a one-sided affair against Arjun Ghosh and Anirban Ghosh. Ronit and Jeet won 3-0 even as the duo took less than 15 minutes to dispose of its opponents. In the women’s doubles final, West Bengal’s Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee put it across Karnataka’s Kushi Viswanath and Yashaswini Ghorpade 3-0. Karnataka finished the Games with the lone silver.