Lesser-known men from Haryana and Airports Authority of India (AAI) had their moments before Petroleum and Air India set up the title-clashes in the National team championship at the Siri Fort Indoor Stadium here.
Haryana came close to upstaging Air India in semifinals when its doubles team of Ketan Chahal and Saurav Kapoor led 12-9 and 16-15 in the deciding game of the fifth rubber against Gopi Raju and Jishnu Sanyal.
Thereafter, Gopi and Jishnu held their nerves and reeled off the last six points to complete Air India’s 3-2 victory.
In the opening singles, Haryana’s Neeraj Vashisht led 19-18 in the decider against Anand Pawar before letting his more illustrious rival off the hook.
The setback for Air India came when the recently-crowned National junior champion Aditya Joshi and runner-up Harsheel Dani surrendered to Akshit Mahajan and Ketan Chahal. In the other semifinals, Petroleum overcame a fighting AAI to take its allotted place in the title-clash. Former National champion Saurabh Verma and K. Srikanth dropped a game each to Rohit Yadav and Kaushal Dharmamer before putting Petroleum 2-0 ahead.
In the doubles, Nanda Gopal and Manu Attri defeated pre-match favourite K. Tarun and Arun Vishnu in three games. But the tie soon ended when an exhausted Nanda Gopal retired from the following singles after trailing 14-18 against R.M.V. Gurusaidatt in the opening game. The AAI caused the first upset of the competition by packing off Karnataka 3-0 in the quarterfinals. Rohit and Kaushal set up the victory by clinching the singles against Rohan Castelino and Anup Sridhar.
In the doubles that followed, Nanda Gopal and Manu Attri won as expected.
The action in the ladies section followed predictable lines, with Petroleum and Air India winning their semifinals without much ado.
The results (team championship): Men: Semifinals: Petroleum beat Airports Authority of India 3-0 (Sourabh Verma bt Rohit Yadav 23-21, 17-21, 21-13; K. Srikanth bt Kaushal Dharmamer 21-15, 17-21, 21-7; K. Tarun and Arun Vishnu lost to Nanda Gopal and Manu Attri 21-23, 21-16, 18-21; R.M.V. Gurusaidutt bt Nanda Gopal 18-14 retd.).
Air India beat Haryana 3-2 (Anand Pawar bt Neeraj Vashisth 21-9, 16-21, 21-19; Aditya Joshi lost to Akshit Mahajan 10-21, 10-21; Akshay Dewalkar and Sanyam Shukla bt Neeraj Vashishth and Akshit Mahajan 22-20, 21-14; Harsheel Dani lost to Ketan Chahal 23-21, 12-21, 13-21; Gopi Raju and Jishnu Sanyal bt Ketan Chahal and Saurav Kapoor 14-21, 21-9, 21-16).
Quarterfinals: Petroleum bt Madhya Pradesh 3-0; AAI bt Karnataka 3-0; Uttar Pradesh bt Haryana 3-0; Air India bt Delhi 3-0. Pre-quarterfinals: UP bt Assam 3-0.
Women: Semifinals: Petroleum beat Kerala 2-0 (P.V. Sindhu bt J.K. Malvika 21-10, 21-12; G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponappa bt K.P. Sruthi and Farha Mather 21-9, 21-18).
Air India beat West Bengal 2-0 (Sayali Gokhale bt Sheshadri Sanyal 21-13, 18-21, 21-8; Sanyogita Ghorpade and Saili Rane bt Sheshadri Sanyal and Amrita Mukherjee )
Quarterfinals: Petroleum bt Maharashtra 2-0; Kerala bt Delhi 2-0; Air India bt AAI 2-1; West Bengal bt Assam 2-0. Pre-quarterfinals: West Bengal bt Haryana 2-0.