Anirban Ghosh of Railways is considered a promising talent by most. At 19 years, few might also argue that he has not fulfilled even a fraction of his immense potential.
At the Balewadi Sports Complex here on Monday in the men’s quarterfinals of the 11Sports-West Zone National-ranking table tennis tournament, Anirban showed how gifted he is, by defeating Sudanshu Grover (PSPB) 11-3, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 to advance to his first semifinals in six years in the men’s section.
Later, Manika Batra, the second seed, fought back from the brink to put it past Ayhika Mukherjee in seven games, 6-11, 9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-6, 11-7.
A section of the stands went into raptures watching Sudanshu and Anirban play an attacking game from the back of the table. In fact, it was a delight to see Anirban play a fast-paced game with an equally bewitching backhand and forehand.
Actually, Anirban should have finished the contest in the fifth game as he was leading 4-2 and then 9-8. But Sudanshu got three straight points to bag the fifth.
The sixth game belonged to Anirban. Backed by good receive and excellent finish, he ran up a 5-2 and 9-6 lead and won it comfortably.
“This season despite having a good draw in all the domestic tournaments, I couldn’t perform as I put too much pressure on myself. This time, I did well on my receives and was consistent on my backhand,” said Anirban, who is a qualifier here.
In the Manika-Ayhika match, with both playing with long pimpled rubbers, there were few attacking rallies as both were content in being consistent. It was Ayhika, who was more so as she won the first three games pretty comfortably.
Manika crawled her way back attacking on her forehand whenever the opportunity presented itself and varying her backhand chops/push cleverly. The Commonwealth Games star was a tad lucky in the seventh and deciding game as she had three net-chord winners.
Anthony Amalraj, the top seed, put an end to Vivek Bhargava’s fine run with a 4-0 margin in the quarterfinals. Vivek had defeated Siddhesh Pande, the eighth seed, in the round of 32 and ninth seeded Jubin Kumar in the pre-quarterfinals.
India's star Sharath Kamal, later, put the breaks on qualifier M. Subash, by winning in four straight games to enter the last four. Subash had ousted Shreyal Telang in the pre-quarterfinals.