Goa, October 21st, 2023: Assam bagged the first gold medal of the 37th National Games when their women’s badminton team blanked Maharashtra 3-0 in the finals on Saturday at the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee stadium here. Karnataka bagged the men’s team gold with a 3-1 victory over Maharashtra.
Assam’s Ashmita Chaliha and Isharani Baruah proved too good for the entire Maharashtra team as they won their respective singles matches and then teamed up to upset former junior national champions Ritika Thaker and Simran Singhi to wrap up the gold medal.
Ashmita, who was also part of India’s Asian Games contingent, began Assam’s march towards the top of the podium with a convincing 21-16, 21-11 victory over Purva Barve.
Maharashtra knew that they would be favourites for the gold medal if they could win one of the first three rubbers. And those hopes would have been raised when Aalisha Naik bagged the first game against Isharani, dropping just nine points.
But Isharani came back stronger in the second game, not allowing her opponent to play the deceptive drops and began controlling the rallies better. She sailed through the second game and opened up a 11-2 lead in the third before Aalisha found a way to score some points. It was, however, too little too late for the Mumbai girl, as Isharani kept her nerves to clinch the match 9-21, 21-13, 21-18 in 40 minutes.
The eventual silver medalists would have still believed that they could turn things around. But Ashmita and Isharani rode on the momentum and took early leads in both the games and their opponents’ efforts were not enough to catch up with them. The Assam duo won 21-19, 21-13 as the team rushed to celebrate a well-deserved triumph.
The men’s team final was a well-contested affair. Karnataka’s first singles player S Bhargav showed nerves of steel against the experienced Harsheel Dani to give his team a 1-0 lead as he came from a game down to win 18-21, 21-19, 21-15.
It looked like Karnataka could double their advantage when K Pruthvi Roy opened up a sizeable lead in the first game against Rohan Gurbani. But the Nagpur-boy saved three game points in the opening game. He had to save two more game points in the second but could not convert the match point he got as the match drifted into the decider.
Both players were neck-and-neck till 14-14 before Gurbani bagged seven straight points to win the match and restore parity for Maharashtra. The experienced Karnataka combination of H K Nithin and K Sai Pratheek once against put their team ahead with a 21-12, 21-14 victory over Deep Rambhiya and Akshan Shetty. World Junior Championships bronze medalist Ayush Shetty then got the better of Darshan Pujari 21-16, 21-17 to wrap up the summit clash.
Men: Karnataka bt Maharashtra 3-1 (S Bhargav bt Harsheel Dani 18-21, 21-19, 21-15; k Pruthvi Roy lost to Rohan Gurbani 23-21, 22-24, 21-14; HV Nithin/K Sai Pratheek bt Deep Rambiya/Akshan Shetty 21-12, 21-14; Ayush Shetty bt Darshan Pujari 21-16, 21-17
Gold: Karnataka, Silver: Maharashtra, Bronze: Uttarakhand, Assam
Assam bt Maharashtra 3-0 (Ashmita Chaliha bt Purva Barve 21-16, 21-11; Isharani Baruah bt Alisha Naik 9-21, 21-13, 21-18; Ashmita/Isharani bt Ritika Thaker/Simran Singhi 21-19, 21-13)
Gold: Assam, Silver: Maharashtra, Bronze: Andhra Pradesh, Punjab