Successful Asian Games pair of Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra managed to beat top-seeded pairing of Manav Thakkar and Archana Girish Kamath 3-1 in mixed doubles to win gold in the 80th National Table Tennis Championship. Anindita Chakraborty, Mouma Das and Poulomi Ghatak were all eliminated.
It was 11 years back in 2008 during the Siliguri Nationals when Sharath had last competed and won all four titles. The veteran has been playing three events after a long time and has already clinched two titles. Since the mixed doubles category was included in Olympics, Sharath has been a part and alongside Batra, has been successful.
His experience and Batra’s raw talent helped India clinch the bronze medal in Jakarta last year and after setting the tone in the team final event on Sunday, Sharath repeated it again on Tuesday against Manav and Archana. After the second-seeded pair managed an early 1-0 lead by dominating through the serves in the first game, their complacency allowed the top seeds to equalize.
However, just when Manav and Archana looked to be in complete control leading 0-5, Sharath and Manika levelled the game before going 6-5, 9-7 up. Their opponents weren’t giving up so easily and came back to take the game 12-10. In the fourth one, Manav and Archana came back again by levelling the scoreline at 3-3 and 6-6. However, this time Sharath and Manika finished on top by taking five consecutive points.
While third-seeded Sudhanshu Grover went down against qualifier Kiranjoy Pushilal of West Bengal 4-3 in the round of 32, fifth-seeded Sushmit Sriram of Tamil Nadu also lost 4-2 to left-handed Abhishek Yadav.
For the women's category, fourth-seeded Divya Deshpande went down against Anusha Kutambale of Madhya Pradesh 4-1 (11-6, 4-11, 8-11, 6-11, 10-12) in the second round, while Pooja Sahasrabudhe lost 2-4 to current Youth champion Shruti Amrute from Maharashtra. Indian stalwarts Anindita Chakraborty, Mouma Das, and Poulomi Ghatak were also shockingly eliminated. Former national champion K. Shamini, however, made it to the pre-quarterfinals.
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