Traditionally, the opening day’s action of the team events in the National table tennis championship produces one-sided contests. This is mainly because the fancied teams are pitted against the less formidable ones. Given the huge difference in strengths of the best and the rest in each group, excitement comes at a premium.
The proceedings may have followed this predictable course as the 74th edition of the championship unfolded here on Monday, but the ladies from Delhi and the men from Goa charted a difference course. Delhi, served by seasoned campaigners Manika Batra, Neha Agarwal and upcoming Sanya Sehgal, pushed last year’s quarterfinalist Maharashtra ‘B’ to the second place in Group ‘G’.
In the match to decide the topper of the four-team group, Delhi won 3-0 with Manika predictably beating Priti Mokashi but not before dropping the second game.
Olympian Neha Aggarwal, still searching for her lost form, outwitted Mallika Bhandarkar 11-5, 6-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7 before Sanya pulled off an exciting 12-14, 11-8, 13-15, 14-12, 11-8 triumph over Vedika Garg. The victory pitted Delhi against Assam for a place in the quarterfinals.
Other matches in the top-half of the draw are, Maharashtra ‘A’-Haryana, MP-Gujarat, and West Bengal-HP.
The pre-quarterfinals in the lower-half are, Petroleum-Maharashtra ‘B’, Railways-Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh; North Bengal-Chandigarh.
Should the results come as expected, the quarterfinals line-up will be, Maharashtra ‘A’-Gujarat, Delhi-West Bengal; Petroleum-Railways and Tamil Nadu-North Bengal.
In the men’s section, Goa exceeded expectations by making the pre-quarterfinals after stunning U.P. 3-2 and Chandigarh 3-1.
Though the league phase continues on Tuesday, teams like Petroleum, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra ‘A’, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharasthra ‘B’, Railways, Orissa, North Bengal, Goa, Haryana, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam have done enough to be in the pre-quarterfinals.
Karnataka owed it to Shreyal Telang for making the grade. In the team’s 3-2 victory over Delhi, Telang defeated Anshul Garg 3-1 in the opener and Sabhay Virmani 3-2 in the decider to emerge a hero.
Team championship, league stage: Women: Group ‘A’: Maharashtra ‘A’ bt Rajasthan 3-0; bt AP 3-0; AP bt Rajasthan 3-0;
Group ‘B’: North Bengal bt Haryana 3-0; bt Jharkhand 3-0; Haryana bt Jharkand 3-0;
Group ‘C’: Petroleum bt Tripura 3-0; bt HP 3-0; HP bt Tripura 3-1;
Group ‘D’: West Bengal bt Mizoram 3-0; bt Uttarakhand 3-0; bt Chhattisgarh 3-0; Chhattisgarh bt Uttarakhand 3-1; bt Mizoram 3-0; Uttarakhand bt Mizoram 3-0.
Group ‘E’: Tamil Nadu bt Manipur 3-0; bt MP 3-0; MP bt Manipur 3-1;
Group ‘F’: Gujarat bt Pondicherry 3-0; bt Chandigarh 3-0; Chandigarh bt Pondicherry 3-1;
Group ‘G’: Maharashtra ‘B’ bt Goa 3-0; bt Punjab 3-0; Delhi bt Punjab 3-0; bt Goa 3-0; bt Maharashtra ‘B’ 3-0; Punjab bt Goa 3-2;
Group ‘H’: Railways bt Bihar 3-0; bt Meghalaya 3-0; bt Assam 3-0; Assam bt Meghalaya 3-0; bt Bihar 3-0; Bihar bt Meghalaya 3-1.
Keywords: 74th Table tennis championship