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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Sayali Wani’s fine comeback win fetches her KIYG gold


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Chennai: Sayali Wani from Maharashtra proved far superior to her West Bengal rival, Nandini Saha, to hoist the Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG) Girls’ singles trophy at the Tamil Nadu Physical Education and Sports University facilities.

Though she trailed 0-3 in the final played Monday night, Sayali breached her opponent’s defence at the right time to inch her way up and posed a real threat to Nandini. But Nandini, trying to steady the rocking boat, could not do much against Sayali’s calculated attack after levelling the score 3-3 before going all out from the fifth game.

Sayali won 4-3.

She was 3-6 down in the decider. But eight points on the trot, helped by Nandini’s unforced errors, remarkably hastened her win. The win also ensured two gold medals for the Maharashtra girl, who combined with Pritha Vartikar to win the girls’ doubles.

Nandini had to settle for the silver when the gold was up for grabs. But she let Sayali dominate from the fourth game, and Nandini never recovered after that.

Nandini Saha of West Bengal finally broke the domination of the Maharashtra girls in the singles. Saha would clash with Sayali Wani in the gold medal battle in the evening. Before that, two girls from the western state fell by the wayside. Risha went 0-4 down to Nandini in the first semifinal, and Sayali Wani beat Pritha Vartikar 4-0 in the second match.

It was an easy affair for the West Bengal girl. The tall Risha failed to use his height advantage against Nandini. The start was inauspicious, and Risha could not cope with the constant pressure applied by Nandini. Only in the third game did Risha come close to challenging her authority, but the Nandini brushed it aside to romp home winners.

If Sayali had a good outing at the KIYG here, Pritha had the poorest. After her recent national performances, the Pune girl started as the favourite for the singles crown. But she was pathetic, to say the least, and could not give a fight she is known for to Sayali.

Pritha made amends in the bronze playoff and beat Risha 3-0 to earn the medal. Risha again failed to bring about a good start, and her Maharashtra rival made the most of it. Later, Pritha combined with Sayali to beat state mates Risha Mirchandani and Taneesha Kotecha 3-1 to claim the gold medal in the doubles. The winners lost the first game, but they regrouped to beat the stuffing out of their rivals.

After their poor outing in the singles, Suhana Saini and Prithoki Chakraborty of Haryana got a chance to redeem themselves in the playoff for bronze. But the Haryana duo failed after leading 2-1 against Syndrela Das and Subhankrita Datta. The West Bengal pair came from behind to win the last two games and the bronze medal.

After their poor showing in the singles, the Tamil Nadu boys had some hopes, at least in the doubles. But the hosts can now hope for the bronze medals only as two pairs from TN will clash in the playoff tomorrow. Tharun Shanmugam and M. Balamurugan lost to the Karnataka duo of K.J. Aakash and P. Yeshwant 2-3, while P.B. Abhinand and Preyesh Raj followed suit, going down 2-3 to Maharashtra’s Neil Mulye and Jash Modi.

The top-seeded pair of Ankur Bhattacharjee and Bodhisatwa Chaudhury got a first-round bye because of seven entries in the doubles event.

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