Rajkot: Defending champion Harmeet Desai of Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) went down 3-4 to West Bengal’s Arjun Ghosh in the men’s singles pre-quarterfinals of the National Ranking Table Tennis Championships at the Veer Savarkar Municipal Corporation Stadium here on Saturday.
Harmeet lost a 3-1 cushion, his form and rhythm as Arjun Ghosh raised the level of his game a notch higher to win the match 8-11, 11-8, 6-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9 and march into the quarters.
He upped the ante in the fifth game, winning it by minimal points and gradually kept himself floating to take the issue to the decider.
In the decider, it seemed a touch-and-go affair as the two matched each other with great strokes, using the flanks well. A few blunders, especially when he netted the ball as Arjun was serving for the match and a service error just before that, cost Harmeet dear.
But Manav Thakkar and Devesh Karia fought well to keep the hosts’ flag flying high when the former outlasted Airport Authority of India’s (AAI) Sarthak Gandhi 4-2 and Karia rolled over PSPB’s Sourav Saha 4-1 to advance to the quarter-finals. Manav played a controlled and yet aggressive game despite Sarthak giving him a good fight.
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In other matches, top seed G. Sathiyan beat Soumyadeep Roy 4-0, AAI’s Vivek Bhargava downed Rohit Chakraborth of LIC 4-1 and another AAI boy Ronit Bhanja outplayed PSPB’s Birdie Boro to win 4-2. For Santil Shetty, it was a cakewalk as he beat Nitin Thuruvengadam of Canara Bank 4-1 and Jubin Kumar repeated the score against Telangana’s Aman Balgu.
Earlier, Varuni Jaiswal of Telangana pulled off another giant killing feat when she humbled former national champion K. Shamini with a 4-3 verdict in women’s singles pre-quarterfinals. Down 0-5 and then 3-6 in the decider, Varuni never lost hope against a seasoned Shamini who is normally good in end games.
Varuni narrowed down the lead with the execution of her backhand drives and nice placements to go 7-6 up and then inched towards writing history. At 10-8 she missed a match point but recovered soon, when Shamini served, to shut her rival out at 10-9 as the 15-year-old eventually wrapped it up 11-9, 6-11, 11-6,8-11, 9-11,11-6, 11-9.
In other pre-quarters, fourth-seeded Manika beat Divya Deshpande 4-2, Ankita Das beat Nikhat Banu 4-0 and Madhurika Patkar won 4-0 against Shruti Amrute.
In another upset, Amrutha Pushpak of Tamil Nadu downed third seed Pooja Sahasrabudde 11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-9. In a clash of veterans, Mouma Das defeated Poulomi Ghatak 4-3, after the latter led 3-2. Mouma had to win the last two games to stay in contention.
PSPB’s Krittwika Sinha Roy was unlucky to bow out in the pre-quarters as the change of bat did her in when she was leading 2-1.
The damaged rubber of her bat had to be changed midway through and it came as a blessing in disguise to her opponent Mousumi Paul who went on to lead 3-2. It was really brave of her to level and in the decider lost a match point as Mousumi won 6-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3, 10-12, 12-10.