Asian junior champion Lakshya Sen received a huge boost ahead of the Senior National Championships as he guided the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to the final of the Yonex-Sunrise 74th Inter State-Inter Zonal Badminton Championships here Sunday.
With a commanding 3-0 victory over Andhra Pradesh, AAI will now challenge the Railways for the title after the latter beat Assam 3-1 to return to the summit clash for the first time since 2011.
The 17-year-old Lakshya refused to put a foot wrong and completely outclassed Andhra's Jagadeesh K 21-10 21-13 in the men's singles contest that lasted just 30 minutes.
While the World Junior Championships bronze medallist cruised through, AAI had to work hard for the other two wins.
Malvika Bansod fought back from a game down to edge past Sai Uttejitha Rao Chukka 13-21 21-14 21-15 in the women's singles clash before Shlok Ramchandran and Chirag Sen teamed up to beat Krishna Prasad Garaga and Gouse Shaik 18-21 21-14 21-18 in a hard-fought men's doubles rubber.
In the second semi-final, Assam's wonder kid Ashmita Chaliha delivered the only win for the home team when Railways' Saili Rane twisted her ankle after 50 minutes of some absorbing badminton action and conceded the match.
Even though Chaliha's 14-21 21-11 8-4 win kept Assam's hopes alive, Railways were quick to dash the home team's hopes with wins in men's singles, men's doubles and women's doubles encounters.
SaarLorLux Open winner Subhankar Dey grabbed a 15-21 21-12 21-5 win over Orijit Chaliha before Kabir Kanzarkar and Hemanagendra Babu edged Anjan Buragohain and Ranjan Buragohain 20-22 21-8 21-15 in the men's doubles.
Kanika Kanwal and Saili Rane then beat Manali Bora and Maini Boruah 26-24 21-13 in the women's doubles to clinch the tie for Railways.
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