Event Section
Left is right for Yadav and Karia


Agra, November 9: PSPB’s Abhishek Yadav reached a step closer to claiming his maiden men’s singles title when he beat Harmeet Desai 4-3 in a gripping semifinal of the LIC National Ranking (North Zone) Table Tennis Championships at the Eklavya Indoor Stadium here today.


But he will have to really try hard tomorrow against the battle-scarred Devesh Karia of Gujarat who would want to add the silverware to his recent trophy collection. The Gujarat paddler, who beat Lalrin Puia of PSPB Academy 4-1 in the second semifinal, began the season on a bright note winning the men’s title at the Central Zone event, just a month ago at Indore.


Harmeet Desai, playing in his first zonal this season, was rusty and it was showing when he took on southpaw Abhishek Yadav in the first semifinal this afternoon. Yadav, who lost in the semifinals at Durgapur, was really positive right from the word go and it reflected in his approach to the match. But unlike him, Desai was taking a cautious route which, in the final analysis, cost him the match.


Yadav attacked well, kept the ball in play and when opportunity presented he sent down scorching winners several times which upset the rhythm of Desai. But trailing 0-2, Desai came to his self and paid back Yadav in the same way. He executed fine strokes from flanks and covered the left-hander’s return angles well to take the next game. But in the fourth, Yadav won the extended game after three deuces. In between, Desai managed take a game off his opponent but that was all he could do as Yadav surged ahead with a huge margin to finish the match.


Yadav admitted that his fourth game was crucial. “He (Harmeet) played really well in the fourth and it could have been anybody’s game. I think I turned it around my way after a few deuces,” said Yadav.  Desai, complimenting his young opponent, echoed Yadav’s views. “Yes, the fourth game was crucial. Had it come my way, things would have been different,” said Desai, who leaves for Stockholm tonight to play in the Swedish league.


But for Karia, it was more or less a cakewalk against an inexperienced Lalrin Puia. But credit should be given to the Academy’s defensive player who managed to take a game off his prominent challenger. Karia, aware of the pitfalls, was confident of a good showing. “I hope my experience comes in handy,” he said, referring to what happened at Indore where he was taking on top-seeded G. Sathiyan. The latter, who won back-to-back titles at Gandhidham and Durgapur, skipped this meet to play in the Russian Open.


In women’s singles quarterfinals, Suthirtha Mukherjee thrashed Manika Batra 4-0, Mouma Das downed Krittwika Sinha Roy 4-1, Ankita Das came from behind to beat Poulomi Ghatak 4-3 and Divya Deshpande accounted for Anindita Chakraborty 4-1.


The Youth Boys and Youth Girls have also entered the quarterfinal stage with the matches continuing into late evening.


The women’s singles semifinals along with Youth Boys and Youth Girls will be played tomorrow followed by all four finals on the concluding day.         


The Results:


Men’s Singles: Semifinals: Abhishek Yadav (PSPB) bt Harmeet Desai (PSPB) 4-3 (11-9, 11-9, 4-11, 14-12, 6-11, 7-11, 11-3), Devesh Karia (Guj) bt Lalrin Puia (PSPBA) 4-1 (11-9, 11-13, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7); Quarterfinals: Harmeet Desai bt Sougata Sarkar (LIC) 4-2 (11-6, 11-3, 11-7, 7-11, 4-11, 11-8), Abhishek Yadav bt Sudhanshu Grover (PSPBA) 4-1 (13-11, 11-7, 12-14, 11-4, 11-4), Lalrin Puia bt Pankaj Kumar (Raj) 4-0 (13-11, 11-8, 11-5, 16-14), Devesh Karia bt Sushmit Sriram (AAI) 4-3 (11-5, 11-8, 10-12, 11-9, 12-14, 5-11, 11-5).


Women’s Singles: Quarterfinals: Suthirtha Mukherjee (PSPB) bt Manika Batra (PSPB) 4-0 (13-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-6), Ankita Das (PSPB) bt Poulomi Ghatak PSPB) 4-3 (8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4, 7-11, 12-10, 14-12), Mouma Das (PSPB) bt Krittwika Siknha Roy (AAI) 4-1 (11-13, 11-4, 11-3, 11-7, 12-10, Divya Deshpande (PSPB) bt Anindita Chakraborty (RSPB) 4-1 (12-10, 11-5, 11-9, 10-12, 11-6).