Kolkata: There was no surprise about the outcome. But the only thing the teams and the spectators would have been curious about was the margin of victory. Unfortunately, killing their inquisitiveness, hosts West Bengal beat Uttar Pradesh in the Under-19 team final in the 85th edition of the UTT Inter-State Youth and Junior National Table Tennis Championships at the Netaji Indoor Stadium this afternoon.
So authoritative were the boys that the hosts had put up this time that it gave no chance to any team that entered the fray from Day 1. West Bengal never lost a rubber in the group or the knockout stages to their rivals, winning all the ties 3-0.
That was the confidence with which the team entered the court on the day of the final. For a change, as a team strategy, Bodhisatwa began the proceedings against Sarth Mishra. Playing with his usual poise, Bodhisatwa displayed his skills, and Sarth failed to cope with the pressure right from the start. The West Bengal player led 2-0. Sarth changed his game plan, and it brought dividends. He won the extended third game on his second game point. But he failed to sustain the tempo, and Bodhisatwa put his team 1-0 up.
Ankur Bhattacharjee was overcautious against Divyansh Srivastava in the second rubber. A few initial hiccups and unforced errors cost him the game, and it looked like the UP boy was on the right track. But Ankur levelled the score and took control of the match from thereon. The tie saw excellent rallies, but poor finishes by Divyansh worried UP. Going from strength to strength, Ankur consolidated their position.
With a 2-0 team cushion, Shankhadip began the third rubber. Shivam Chandra was not a match for the diminutive Shankhadip. But the UP boy did show his gritty side in the third game and fought back to the extent he could delay the inevitable. Nothing beyond. The UP boys ended up as the bride’s maid and not the bride. They had to be satisfied with the silver medal.
Yesterday, Tamil Nadu and the National Centre of Excellence (Kolkata) claimed the bronze after losing their semifinal matches. It was a special Nationals for NCOE boys as they ascended the podium for the first time. They showed their true potential and could pose a real threat to the established teams in the future if they continued in the same manner.
Results: U-19 Boys Team:
Final: West Bengal bt Uttar Pradesh 3-0 (Bodhisatwa Chaudhury bt Sarth Mishra 11-6, 11-3, 11-13, 11-8, Ankur Bhattacharjee bt Divyansh Srivastava 9-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-5, Shankhadip Das bt Shivam Chandra 11-6, 11-8, 13-11).