Sports

A slick show from its men gives Petroleum a record-extending 27th title in National table tennis 

The Petroleum men and Reserve Bank of India women, and their coaches, proudly pose with their reward after retaining the team titles.
| Photo Credit: Rakesh Rao

As widely anticipated, Petroleum went through the motions of winning the team title in the National table tennis championship for a record-extending 27th time and Reserve Bank of India women came up with their first successful title-defence.

Petroleum, without the services of ace Sharath Kamal, chose to rest spearhead Harmeet Desai in the final. Defending singles champion G. Sathiyan, who arrived here on Monday evening, was fielded for the third singles while the struggling duo of A. Amalraj and Manav Thakkar were to play two singles each, if needed.

Strongest trio

Like in Jammu, in the previous edition, RBI paraded its strongest trio of defending singles winner Sreeja Akula, Ayhika Mukherjee and an not-so-fully-fit Diya Chitale against Tamil Nadu.

If the TN girls Yashini Sivashankar, Kavyashree Baskar and Selenadeepthi Selvakumar were hoping to avenge the 2-3 defeat suffered at Jammu, RBI served a rude shock.

The identical 3-0 margins for the winners’ came without the members of these champion teams being required to play their best. This highlighted the gulf that exists between some institutional teams and those from States.

Bouncing back

A rusty Amalraj, a former National champion, dropped the opening game to much-younger Payas Jain but bounced back to force a match-point in the fourth game. The Delhi youngster won four points on the trot to force the decider, where Amalraj just about managed to come out stronger.

Manav, having lost twice on way to this final, played better against a fighting Sudhanshu Grover to win in four games. Sathiyan took time to get the feel of the conditions against rising-talent Shubh Goel and swiftly closed out the final with a 11-2 scoreline in the third game.

In the women’s final, Arjuna Award-elect Ayhika saved two match-points — one each in the third and fifth games — against an inconsistent Yashini to come out stronger. Sreeja expectedly tamed Kavyashree to double RBI’s lead.

Finishing touches

It was left to an injured Diya to put the finishing touches against Selena. In spite of looking far from normal in her movements, Diya outplayed Selena in the second and third games to move ahead. Selena struck right back to force the decider.

Here, Selena had match-points at 10-9, 12-11 and 13-12 and faced one at 10-11. But all credit to Diya for playing the big points better and eventually shutting out the contest by racing away with the last three points.

The results (final): Men: Petroleum bt Delhi 3-0 (A. Amalraj bt Payas Jain 9-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-9; Manav Thakkar bt Sudhanshu Grover 11-9, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9; G. Sathiyan bt Shubh Goel 11-6, 11-9, 11-2).

Women: Reserve Bank of India bt Tamil Nadu 3-0 (Ayhika Mukherjee bt Yashini Sivashankar 12-14, 3-11, 13-11, 11-6, 13-11; Sreeja Akula bt Kavyashree Baskar 11-3, 11-8, 11-5; Diya Chitale bt Selenadeepthi Selvakumar 6-11, 11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 15-13).

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