National table tennis c'ship: Soumyajit Ghosh stuns Sharath Kamal in quarters

For Siliguri-based former champions Soumyajit Ghosh and Ankita Das, it was a memorable comeback journey as they made it to the semifinals.

Soumyajit Ghosh serves in his quarterfinal match against Sharath Kamal.   -  G. Ramakrishna

For Siliguri-based former champions Soumyajit Ghosh and Ankita Das, it was a memorable Saturday on their comeback journey. Exceeding all expectations, these 2016 Rio Olympics debutants gate-crashed into the singles semifinals of the National table tennis championship here.

Champion in 2013 and 2015, Ghosh ended a listless Sharath Kamal’s title-defence 4-2. Ankita, the 2014 winner, rallied from 0-3 to stun former champion K. Shamini and seventh seed Anusha Kutumbale.

Fighting marital matters in court and trying to set right things that went wrong from the eve of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, a grossly-overweight Ghosh chose the right stage to make a point.

His determined effort against the nine-time champion brought him the first three sets. Sharath, looking almost disinterested in the proceedings, did win some points at will and claimed the next two sets. But in the sixth set, when Sharath led 6-4, Ghosh pulled off six straight points and eventually halted Sharath’s unbeaten run since 2017.

Incredibly, the day saw Ghosh playing seven sets against S.F.R. Snehit and six by Sudhanshu Grover. He also played six sets in doubles - and remained unbeaten!

“If I had not won the sixth game, it would have been very difficult for me in the decider,” admitted Ghosh, who last beat Sharath to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Sharath, on his part, said, “I was not in the match today. Perhaps, he needed to win more badly than me. I’m happy for Ghosh.”

Top seed G. Sathiyan, down one set to three and 1-3 in the fourth against Manush Shah in the pre-quarterfinals, trailed 1-2 against Ronit Bhanja before racing away with the last three sets. Sathiyan, will have to play much better on Sunday to emerge the winner.

Like Ghosh, fellow-resident from Siliguri, Ankita Das marked her comeback by gate-crashing into the semifinals. In the pre-quarterfinal, featuring two former champions, Ankita rallied from 0-3 to win 4-3 against K. Shamini, who suffered a shoulder injury during the match. Ankita went on to upstage seventh seed Anusha Kutumbale in the quarterfinals.

Top seed Sutirtha Mukherjee, too, rallied from 0-3 to oust Kaushini Nath 4-3 to reach semifinals against Ayhika.

The results (prefix denotes seedings):

Men singles: Quarterfinals: 1-G. Sathiyan (Pet) bt 8-Ronit Bhanja (Ben ‘A’) 11-6, 9-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9; 4-Manav Thakkar (Pet) bt Sarthak Gandhi (TTFI) 11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8; Harmeet Desai (Pet) bt Sanil Shetty (Pet) 12-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-8; Soumyajit Ghosh (Har) bt Sharath Kamal (Pet) 12-10, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 7-11, 11-7.

Pre-quarterfinals: Sathiyan bt Manush Shah (Guj) 10-12, 11-7, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-7; Bhanja bt Sourav Saha (Har) 8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 6-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-8; Sarthak bt 5-Sushmit Sriram (AAI) 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 11-9; Manav bt 13-Jubin Kumar (Har) 11-9, 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7; Sanil bt 14-Jeet Chandra (Har) 11-2, 12-10, 11-5, 4-11, 11-6; 6-Harmeet bt Akash Pal (Ben ‘A’) 11-4, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7; 8-11, 11-13, 11-8; 7-Soumyajit bt 10-Sudhanshu Grover (Del) 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 12-10; 2-Sharath bt 15-Arjun Ghosh (Ben ‘A’) 11-4, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-2.

Women singles: Quarterfinals: 1-Sutritha Mukherjee (Har) bt Kaushini Nath (Rlys) 8-11, 9-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9; 4-Ayhika Mukherjee (RBI) bt Mousumi Paul (Ben ‘A’) 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9, 11-3; 3-Krittwika Sinha Roy (Pet) bt Pooja Sahasrabudhe (Pet) 11-6, 11-8, 11-5, 11-13, 4-11, 11-7; Ankita Das (Ben ‘B’) bt 7-Anusha Kutumbale (Pet) 9-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-2, 6-11, 13-11, 11-5.

Pre-quarterfinals: Sutirtha bt Madhurika Patkar (Pet) 12-10, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10; Kaushini bt Surbhi Patwari (Ben ‘A’) 7-11, 11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9; Mousumi bt Anindita Chakraborty (Rlys) 15-13, 9-11, 11-9, 12-14, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6; Ayhika bt Sagarika Mukhjeree (Rlys) 11-6, 11-5, 11-9, 16-14; 3-Krittwika bt Varuni Jaiswal (Tel) 11-9, 11-6, 11-3, 11-6; Pooja bt 6-Prapti Sen (Ben ‘A’) 4-11, 11-13, 12-10, 12-10, 11-8, 11-8; Anusha bt Takeme Sarkar (Rlys) 11-6, 11-9, 11-4, 11-2; Ankita bt K. Shamini (Pet) 9-11, 8-11, 3-11, 11-4, 13-11, 11-3, 11-7.

Semifinal-line up (men): G. Sathiyan-Manav Thakkar; Harmeet Desai-Soumyajit Ghosh; (women): Sutirtha Mukherjee -Ayhika Mukherjee; Krittwika Sinha Roy-Ankita Das.