Pune: Led by their two world champions, Prashant More and S Apoorva, India retained their team titles with consummate ease. The men blanked Sri Lanka and the women crushed Maldives by identical 3-0. Maldives had surprised fancied Sri Lanka in the semis.
Bangladesh won the men’s bronze by beating the Maldives 2-1. The women’s bronze was won by Sri Lanka. They beat the Maldives by a 3-0 margin. The event is supported by LIC of India, ONGC, Indian Oil, HPCL and Bank of Maharashtra.
At the historic PYC Gymkhana where the 8th International Carrom Federation Cup is being held, Prashant beat former world champion Nishantha Fernando on the top board in straight sets, 25-21 and 25-7. The crucial first set was fought well by both. Prashanth was leading 17-5 at the end of the fifth board but Nishantha came back to equalize 21-21 by the eighth board. The reigning world champ then pulled away after leading 12-5 in the second set. He had a golden opportunity but floundered at a crucial moment. He could have scored nine in the seventh board which was eventually won by Nishantha. But Prashant finished the argument thereafter.
The second singles between Zaheer Pasha and Shahid Hilmy was quite one-sided. The in form Zaheer carried too many guns for his opponent. He finished him at 25-10 and 25-16. Zaheer had one break-to-finish in this match. He had earlier recorded half a dozen of them in the ‘Swiss League’ on day one.
In the men’s doubles Rajesh Gohil teamed with Irshad Ahmed to blast Dineth Dulakshan and Anas Ahmed at 25-15 and 25-4. The highlights of this match were the two boards of eleven each, won by the Indians in the first set. In the second, they won two boards at ten and nine points respectively to complete the misery of the islanders.
The fancied Indian women with current world champion S Apoorva and a former world beater Rashmi Kumari in the ranks found the going easy. On the top board Apoorva crushed Aminath Vishama 25-5 and 25-5. Rashmi found her opponent Aminath Vidhaad a tough nut to crack initially, but once she bagged the first set 25-10, the second was a mere formality. Rashmi just swept her aside 25-0. In the doubles, the Indian pair of Ayesha Sajid and K Nagjyothi beat their Maldivian opponents 25-8 and 25-14.