Maharashtra women will take on Bengal in the finals.
Favourites Gujarat delighted the sizeable home crowd in registering an easy 3-0 victory over West Bengal while Delhi upset second-seeded Maharashtra 3-2 in the 36th National Games men’s table tennis semi-finals at the PDDU indoor stadium here on Wednesday.
Defending champions Maharashtra will take on West Bengal in the women’s final. Maharashtra had to work hard to beat Tamil Nadu 3-1 while the experienced Bengal squad defeated Telangana 3-0 in the semi-finals.
Gujarat captain Harmeet Desai was under pressure when Anirban Ghosh found the range of strokes to take a 2-1 lead. But the experienced Harmeet slowed down the pace to win the last two games 11-4, 11-3. Manav Thakkar and Manush Shah then registered comfortable wins over Ronit Bhanja and Jeet Chandra to put their team in the gold medal match.
The other men’s semi-final between Maharashtra and Delhi went to the wire with Payas Jain stepping up to take his team to victory. Jain first defeated former National champion Sanil Shetty in the second match to give his team a 2-0 lead. However, Siddesh Pande got the better of Yashansh Malik and then Shetty defeated Sudhanshu Grover to restore parity.
But if the second seeds were hoping to improve on their bronze medal-winning performance in the last edition of the National Games, Jain had different ideas. His attacking play was too much for Deepak Patil to handle and the Delhi boy clinched the match 11-9, 11-6, 12-10 to take Delhi to the final.
In the women’s semi-final, S Yashini (Tamil Nadu) fought back from the brink to spring a surprise on Diya Chitale in the first match of the semi-final against Maharashtra.
Chitale, who represented India in the Commonwealth Games, opened up a 5-0 lead in the fourth game having won two of the first three. But Yashini kept her head down and piled the pressure on her opponent with quality backhand winners to take the match into the decider. The players fought neck and neck till 5-5 before Yashini forced a baffled Chitale to make errors.
However, Swastika Ghosh then restored parity by thrashing V Kouwshika and then Reethrishya Tennison put all her experience into use to get the better of C R Harshvardhini to put her team ahead. Chitale was then under pressure to deliver the goods in the reserve fixture and close out the match. Though, she wasn’t at her best on the day the youngster kept her nerves under pressure to beat Kowshika in five sets.
In the other semi-final, the result was a foregone conclusion after Ayhika Mukherjee oet the better of Akula Sreeja in the second match which went to the wire. Sreeja managed to save a couple of match points, but Ayhika kept her nerves under pressure to win 3-2. Sutirtha Mukherjee and the experienced Mouma Das won the other two matches.
Manika, Sathiyan gave top billing in individual events
With the tournament jury deciding to give higher weightage to World rankings in deciding the seedings, 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Manika Batra in women and G Sathiyan were given top billing in the singles draw ahead of National Games champion Akula Sreeja and A Sharath Kamal respectively.
Most top players have a bye in the opening round of the 44-player men’s singles and 43-player women’s singles draws.
The results (semi-finals):
Gujarat bt West Bengal 3-0 (Harmeet Desai bt Anirban Ghosh 11-6, 8-11, 6-11, 11-4, 11-3; Manav Thakkar bt Ronit Bhanja 11-9, 11-9, 12-10; Manush Shah bt Jeet Chandra 11-5, 11-9, 4-11, 11-1)
Delhi by Maharashtra 3-2 (Sudhanshu Grover bt Deepit Patil 11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7; Payas Jain bt Sanil Shetty 6-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-5, 11-7; Yashansh Malik lost to Siddesh Pande 11-4, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11; Grover lost to Shetty 11-8, 6-11,9-11, 11-7, 15-17; Payas Jain bt Deepit Patil 11-9, 11-6, 12-10)
Maharashtra bt Tamil Nadu 3-1 (Diya Chitale lost to S. Yashini 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 5-11; Swastika Ghosh bt V. Kowshika 13-11, 11-5, 11-6; Reethrishya Tennison bt C.R.Harshvardhini 11-9, 14-16, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9; Diya Chitale bt V.Kowshika 11-7, 4-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-4)
West Bengal bt Telengana 3-0 (Sutirtha Mukherjee bt Varuni Jaiswal 11-7, 13-11, 11-4; Ayhika Mukherjee bt Akula Sreeja 11-9, 7-11, 13-11, 9-11, 14-12; Mouma Das bt Nikhat Banu 12-10, 8-11, 11-4, 11-13, 11-9)
The top seedings:
Men’s singles: 1. G. Sathiyan (TN), 2. A. Sharath Kamal (TN), 3. Sanil Shetty (Mah), 4. Harmeet Desai (Guj), 5. Anirban Ghosh (WB), 6. Manush Shah (Guj), 7. Soumyajit Ghosh and 8. Manav Thakkar (Guj).
Women’s singles: 1. Manika Batra (Del), 2. Sreeja Akula (Tel), 3. Diya Chitale (Mah), 4. Reeth Rishya (Mah), 5. Anusha Kutumbale (MP), 6. Prapti Sen (WB), 7. Swastika Ghosh (Mah) and 8. Takeme Sarkar (WB).