Cuttack, January 4: Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSBP) men team, making a bold statement, almost ensured their berth in the pre-quarterfinals of the 80th edition of the 11Even Sports Senior National Table Tennis Championships which began at the Nehru Indoor Stadium here today.
It was a child’s play for the PSPB men who thrashed both Maharashtra B and Bihar with an identical 3-0 scores in the first two rounds from group A to sew up their place, with a match in hand against Sikkim later tonight.
So confident were the PSPB men that they had rested A. Sharath Kamal and with G. Sathiyan holding the beacon he, Anthony Amalraj and Manav Thakkar the team was guided into a position of strength. However, Sharath is expected to enter the fray in the match against Sikkim as he was seen warming up.
In their first round they thrashed Bihar as Sathiyan won 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 against Yogesh Mathuri to set the ball rolling. Amalraj followed it up with a 11-9, 11-6, 11-4 victory to PSPB 2-0, leaving Manav Thakkar to complete the job. He won 11-3, 11-3, 11-6 against Lekh Raj.
Then they accounted for Maharashtra B, with Sathiyan starting the proceedings against Js Dalvi (11-4, 11-7, 11-9) and Sudhanshu Grover completing it against Tanmay Rane (11-9, 11-9, 11-6). In between Amalraj took a game more to beat Faegan Albuquerque 11-3, 8-11, 11-7, 12-10.
Manika Batra led PSPB’s charge in women’s affair, beating Uttarakhand 3-0. Her victim was Vanshika Yadav who lost 7-11, 6-11, 4-11, while Madhurika Patkar beat Priyana Saha 11-3, 11-8, 11-5 with Archana Kamath downing Jyoti Bharti 11-2, 11-4, 11-3 in the one-sided first round.
With only one round having been gone through in women’s team events, the group leaders had secured their first wins to make a good beginning.
Maharashtra B, despite their loss to PSPB, looked the second team to make grade from the group, having beaten Sikkim 3-0 and they will be next taking on lowly Bihar in the last round.
Last year’s runner-up Haryana defeated both hosts Odisha 3-0 and followed it up with a win over Odisha, also a 3-0 verdict. Opening with Jubin Kumar, Haryana won the first rubber beating Bikash Kumar Singh 11-5, 11-3, 11-2. Then the experienced Sourav Saha dropped the first game against Asif Haque but managed to pull it back with a 2-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 as Jeet Chandra finished the task with a 11-7, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 win over Snehamoy Mallick.
Later, playing the first rubber against Chhattisgarh, Jeet accounted for Santosh Araswilli 12-10, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9 before left-handed Jubin consolidating their lead with a 11-6, 11-6, 11-4 triumph over Sagar Ghatge as Sourav Saha beat Abhishek Raj 6-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-5.
The teams that were in line for taking the top spot in each of the other groups were Gujarat in group C, who had won both their rounds, Tamil Nadu in group D, Maharashtra A, enjoying a walkover from Arunachal Pradesh were sitting pretty in group E, Railways in group F, West Bengal in group G and Delhi in group H. All of them have a match in hand as the last round will be played tonight before the main draw begins tomorrow morning.