Asian Games bronze medallists Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra defeated top-seeded pair of Manav Thakkar and Archana Girish Kamath 3-1 to win the mixed doubles gold in the 80th National Table Tennis Championship in Cuttack on Tuesday.
Sharath, who is playing in three events after a long time, won the second title to add to the team event crown that Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) won two days ago at the Nehru Stadium.
The last time Sharath competed and won all four titles was way back during the Siliguri Nationals in 2008. Incidentally, it was Harmeet Desai and Pooja Sahasrabudhe who had won the mixed doubles for PSPB at Hyderabad three years ago.
Ever since mixed doubles has become a part of the Olympics, Sharath has ventured into it and along with Manika tasted success when the pair won the first Asian Games bronze medal at Jakarta last year.
Having set the tone on Sunday in the team final, Sharath shepherded Manika in the final against Manav and Archana.
Establishing an early lead, the second-seeded pair stamped their authority and went 1-0 up, winning most points on service.
In the second game, however, they left some leeway for the top-seeds to stage a comeback but Sharath and Manika soon caught up with them to win it on extended points.
Nevertheless, their opponents did well to challenge their supremacy and led 0-5 before Sharath and Manika levelled and went 6-5, 9-7 up. But Archana and Manav clawed their way back and neutralized and at deuce they seized the first opportunity to take the game 12-10.
In the fourth game, Manav and Archana pulled back yet again to make it 3-3 and 6-6 but Sharath and Manika eventually prevailed after taking five points on the trot and the match.
In both men and women singles, at least two seeds exited as third seed Sudhanshu Grover went down to qualifier Kiranjoy Pushilal of West Bengal 4-3 in the round of 32.
Left-handed Abhishek Yadav also sent fifth-seeded Sushmit Sriram of Tamil Nadu packing 4-2.
In women’s draw, fourth-seeded Divya Deshpande lost to Anusha Kutambale of Madhya Pradesh 4-1 (11-6, 4-11, 8-11, 6-11, 10-12) in the second round while Pooja Sahasrabudhe followed suit in the next round, losing 2-4 to current Youth champion from Maharashtra Shruti Amrute.
Earlier, R Senthil Kumar of Kerala downed No. 14 seed Raj Mondal 11-7, 11-8, 11-2 with no resistance coming from the RBI paddler while SFR Snehit, No. 15 seed, lost to Jaydip Das of Indian Audit 17-19, 10-12, 1-11.
Joining the crowd of fallen stars were former national champions Anindita Chakraborty, Mouma Das and Poulomi Ghatak.
The silver lining, however, was that former national champion K Shamini had made it to the pre-quarterfinals.
But the best match of the day was, indeed, the one between Sudhanshu and Kiranjoy. The West Bengal paddler showed enormous courage to fight back after being down 1-3 and winning the breathtaking decider 18-16 to enter the round of 32.
Archana Kamath averted a scare from Nivedita Balasurry of Telangana to win 4-3 after being down 0-3.