KOCHI:Kerala had a bitter-sweet day at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday as their men’s badminton outfit retained its team title, while the women conceded theirs to settle for the silver.In an exciting final, which refused to swing either way till the dying moments of the game, Kerala men beat Haryana 3-2 to become the team champions in the National Games the third time in a row. Meanwhile, the hosts lost to Telangana 2-0 in the women’s summit clash.
The men began their title defence well, with world number 18 H S Prannoy handing down a straight-sets defeat to Telangana’s Neeraj Vashisth, 21-14, 21-12 in the first singles of the five-game final.However, Munawer Mohammed lost that edge, conceding his singles to Ketan Chahal 21-11, 15-21, 11-21.Later, veteran pair Sanave Thomas and Rupesh Kumar reinstated the upper hand, crushing Haryana’s Neeraj and Surender Rathee 21-4, 21-10, only to be repelled by visitors’ Aksit Mahajan, who beat Shyam Prasad 21-13, 21-17 in the third singles. In the deciding doubles, Kerala duo Alwin Francis and Arun Vishnu beat Ketan Chahal and Akshit Mahajan 17-21, 21-11, 21-17. In the women’s final, Kerala’s P C Thulasi lost to Rituparna Das before doubles pair Aparna Balan and Arathi Sara Sunil were beaten by Ruthvika Shivani and N Siki Reddy.