Event Section
Group leaders hold sway, fight for second spot on


Shillong, April 18: The leaders of all the eight groups in the women’s section held sway on the opening day of the team championships in the 83rd Senior National and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships at the SAI Indoor Stadium here today.


The Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB), Bengal A, Haryana, Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), Maharashtra A, Tamizhaga Table Tennis Association (TTTA), Maharashtra B and Karnataka are well and truly entrenched after two rounds of matches. However, the real fight is expected among teams to occupy the second spot in their groups.


With two teams from each group slated to advance to the knockout stage, at least one of the first-round matches in Group C went down to the wire as Madhya Pradesh prevailed over a spirited Rajasthan 3-2. The match that went on for three hours kept everyone on tenterhooks.


With Anusha Kutumbale leading the side, it should have been a cakewalk for MP. But it was not the case with Rajasthan’s Samaira Sharma putting her side in the lead. The Rajasthan paddler defeated Khushi Jain 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10, and Anusha stepped in to equalise the score, winning the second rubber against Nandini Nagori 3-0.


But the third singles tie between Adya Sinha and Gayatri Choudhary saw the former emerging 11-8, 7-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6 winners, giving some jitters to the MP bench. Though Anusha thrashed Samaira 3-0, the onus was on Khushi to bring MP back on track. She won her reverse singles against Nandhini 11-8, 11-13, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9 as the latter stretched the MP girl fully.  However, MP could not repeat their performance in their second round and lost 2-3 to Andhra Pradesh.


In the two rounds gone by, the opponents of RSPB and PSPB had their backs to the wall. The contenders and challengers defeated their rivals without much ado in their respective groups. Teams like Haryana, Bengal A, Maharashtra A and B, and Karnataka were clinical in their approach.


PSPB men, on the other hand, looked unstoppable. In the first two rounds, PSPB paddlers thrashed Goa and Maharashtra B, respectively, with identical 3-0 margins, and tried out two sets of combinations in their line-ups. G. Sathiyan and Sanil Shetty were the common factors in both the matches while Manav Thakkar and Harmeet Desai got a knock each alternatively. A. Sharath, their most experienced player, is yet to make his presence felt and that could happen tomorrow in the remaining two rounds.


After one round each, Delhi, Telangana, Gujarat, Maharashtra A, Bengal A, Tamil Nadu Table Tennis Association and Haryana led their respective groups comfortably.


Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh of the Meghalaya Assembly formally inaugurated the championships with the Sports Minister of the state, Banteidor Lyngdoh, and other dignitaries of the Meghalaya Table Tennis Association present.  With profound grief, the Sports Minister and the Speaker recalled the unfortunate road accident yesterday and the loss of Tamil Nadu player, Vishwa Deenadayalan. The Sports Minister also read out a condolence letter on his government’s behalf.  Before the inauguration, a two-minute silence was observed for the departed soul.