Sharath creeps into semis; Madhurika survives as Archana rolls past Takeme into last 4

Dharwad, September 9: Top-seed A.Sharath Kamal crept his way into the semi-finals of the LIC-IOC All India National Ranking Table Tennis Championships (South Zone) when he beat a sturdy Sougata Sarkar of LIC 4-3 at the District Indoor Stadium here today.

Second-seed G.Sathiyan brushed aside left-hander Sail Shetty’s challenge, winning his match 4-2, while Manav Thakkar and A. Amalraj eased into the next round without a sweat on a sultry evening.

Normally a free-flowing Sharath was not in his elements. Despite taking the first game with some struggle, he allowed a two-game cushion to Sougata as the LIC’s old warhorse led 3-2, putting Sharath in an awkward position. But Sharath steadied himself well at the crucial juncture knock the stuffing out of Sougata.

Sathiyan, facing a fast-paced Sanil, more or less sailed in the same boat when he allowed his rival come too close for his comfort before going all out in the sixth game to clinch it and the match.

Ankita Das was on the verge of equalling when she led comfortably in the sixth game at 7-2 but let Madhurika claw her way back into the game and take 10-9 lead. But on match point, Madhurika spilled the chance as Ankita deuced. From there, the national champion squandered four match points before winning the match on the fifth. Ankita had three game points but she could not put them into account and take the issue to the decider. Madhurika won 4-2.

PSPB’s Archana had some initial hiccups when Railways Takeme Sarkar, playing her best in recent times, challenged her supremacy. Yet, a calm and cool Archana inched her way slowly from 2-2 to take the next two games comfortably for a 4-2 verdict as the Railways paddler lost her way after a lot of promise.

As for Manika, brushing aside her initial struggle she reeled off eight straight points from 3-7 to win the fifth game to push the RBI girl, Amrutha Pushpak out of race and win 4-1. On the other hand, Suthirtha had sewn it up rather nicely against veteran Mouma Das with a 4-1 victory.

Earlier in the day, top-seed Pooja Sahasrabuddhe stumbled in the pre-quarterfinals allowing unseeded Amrutha Pushpak win 11-9, 11-6, 11-7, 2-11, 11-5. It was an ordinary game dished out by Pooja who won the Institutional women singles title in the first week of August at New Delhi. But credit must be given to the RBI girl who played brilliantly to outsmart the top seed.

In men singles, fourth seed Arjun Ghosh and sixth seed Abhishek Yadav bowed out as Subhajit Saha and Anthony Amalraj, respectively, scalped them in the pre-quarters. Saha won 11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-3, 4-11, 11-8 and Amalraj made it a straight games affairs with 11-8, 11-9, 11-5, 11-1 triumph. Top-seeded Sharath beat Railways Anirban Nandi 10-12, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 13-11, but young Jeet Chandra ousted floater Birdie Boro in straight games. Manav Thakkar followed suit downing Siddesh Pande 4-0.

Action in Youth Boys and Girls entered the main draw stage with two rounds to be played tonight. Liberal byes in the Boys section meant that it would be a draw of 64 with the seeds getting down to business from round two. The Girls were not so luck in the 32 draw format and they would be playing two rounds tonight.

As for the Junior Boys and Girls, the qualification process gets over today with the main draw set to begin tomorrow.

Results:

Men Singles (QF): A. Sharatah Kamal bt Sougata Sarkar (LIC) 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 2-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5, Manav Thakkar bt Subhajit Saha (PSPB) 11-6, 11-1, 11-9, 11-4, A.Amalraj bt Jeet Chandra (WB) 11-5, 11-13, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5, G. Sathiyan bt Sanil Shetty (PSPB) 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8.

Women Singles (QF): Manika Batra bt Amrutha Pushpak (RBI) 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7, Madhurika Patkar bt Ankita Das (PSPB) 12-10, 5-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 17-15, Archana Kamath bt Takeme Sarkar (Rlys) 4-11, 11-6, 11-5, 4-11, 11-8, 11-3, Suthirtha Mukherjee bt Mouma Das (PSPB) 11-8, 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 12-10.