Delhi pulled off a hard-fought victory over Maharashtra 3-2 to set up a final clash with the top seed Gujarat in the men’s table tennis final of the 36th National Games here on Wednesday.
In the fifth and deciding rubber, 17-year-old Payas, a much-improved paddler, defeated Deepit Patil in three straight games to put his team in the summit clash.
Gujarat, the top seed, blanked West Bengal 3-0 with its top three players, Harmeet Desai, Manush Thakkar and Manav Thakkar recording easy victories.
In the women’s section, Maharashtra will meet West Bengal in the final.
While West Bengal didn’t face any big hurdle in its 3-0 win over Telangana in the last four clash, Maharashtra - the top seed - couldn't have expected such a fight from an unheralded Tamil Nadu team as it huffed and puffed for a hard-fought 3-1 victory.
In fact, none of the TN players is in the top 20 of Indian rankings and on the other hand, Maharashtra has three players who are part of the Indian team for the World championships–Reeth Rishya, Diya Chitale and Swastika Ghosh, and they are ranked third, fourth and fifth in Indian rankings.
Yashini shook Maharashtra’s foundation when she defeated Diya Chitale in five games in the first rubber. In a battle between two attacking paddlers, it was the Chennai paddler who came up trumps. Swastika Ghosh and Reeth Rishya won their respective matches against V. Kowshika and C. R. Harshavardini. Harshavardini fought tooth and nail with Reeth before losing in five games.
The fourth match between Diya and Kowshika turned out to be the most interesting of the lot.
It was a no-brainer as to who would win the match. Diya at India No.2 and Kowshika, the State’s top paddler but ranked 26 in India.
A limited player, with block and push beng her major weapons, Kowshika really pushed Divya to the brink. Playing close to the table, Kowshika pushed Diya to both ends even as she attacked quite regularly on her forehand.
When Kowshika pocked the fourth game, it was felt that a big battle lay ahead. Diya, however, quashed such hopes with a dominating display attacking right from the beginning in the fifh.
From 7-4, Diya took the next four points to put Maharashtra in the summit clash.