There is something unnervingly delicate about P Kashyaps shot-making. The shuttle seems to float off his racket strings,barely making a sound,and falls across the net at imperceptible angles. All the noise on Tuesday came in the result of that display,as the young third seed finished off Anup Sridhars Indore senior badminton nationals title hopes with a clinical 21-16 21-17 win.
The two started with not giving much scope of dominance to either,Kashyaps touch proving the perfect foil to Sridhars attacks. The Hyderabadis defence is not just stable,but creative,and the younger player was the first to stretch the lead to three points,going up 17-14. From there,he pulled it to the decisive point,a delicate lob that fell just inside the baseline to make it 20-15. Sridhar saved one game point with his trademark jump smash,but couldnt handle the next rally.
The second game had seemed to go the senior internationals way at first,as Sridhar tried to be aggressive and made it 11-7 in his favour. Kashyap levelled with a great drop,and it was 13-13. But Kashyaps combination of well-placed smashes,sailing tosses and feigned drops meant that his long forehand to make it 17-17 was the last point Sridhar had against his name.
Kashyaps task looks tougher in his first national final,at least going by numbers. Top seed Aravind Bhat had not even a whiff of a challenge in the first game in his semi-final against fourth seed Anand Pawar. The Mumbai lad seemed to have woken up from the daze of that 21-5 loss to bring out his game in the second,at one point winning six points in a row to go from 15-10 down to 15-15. Pawars jump smashes and the clear dominance wasnt denied though. He won 21-5 21-18 to make his fifth final in seven years.
The womens final will see two completely new names. Second seed Trupti Murgunde had started off with her crisp smashes and wide reach covering the court effortlessly. But Sayali Gokhale kept grinding,and her prize did come. Murgunde,making a comeback from injury,was clearly not in a position to be stretched and her error-prone ways ensured Gokhale was the one with the gleeful expression on her face.
Gokhale won 15-21 21-18 21-16 and will play another first-time finalist,PC Thulasi. Thulasis surprising run and composed play took care of Mudra Dhainje as the Kerala girl won 21-11 21-14 easily. Its an unbelievable feeling to have made a senior nationals final, Thulasi said. Sayali likes to play rallies and I will have to avoid getting trapped into doing that.
Results (singles semi-finals): Women: PC Thulasi bt Mudra Dhainje (16) 21-11 21-14; Sayali Gokhale (4) bt Trupti Murgunde 15-21 21-18 21-16
Men: Aravind Bhat (1) bt Anand Pawar (4) 21-5 21-18; P Kashyap (3) bt Anup Sridhar (2) 21-16 21-17