Table Tennis Nationals: Ankita stuns Kaushani; Sagarika strikes for Railways

Olympian Ankita Das made a superb comeback from a one-year injury layoff by beating Kaushani Nath in the opening match between Bengal 'B' and Railways.

Bengal's Ankita Das in action against Railways' Kaushani Nath during the National Table Tennis Championships on Monday.   -  G. Ramakrishna

For Ankita Das, injuries have helped learn some harsh realities of life. Now on a comeback trail after a ligament tear kept her away for a year, the 2014 National champion is quietly trying to prove her detractors wrong.

On the opening day of the team events of the National table tennis championship here, the 30th-ranked Ankita produced flashes of her brilliance to down 14th-ranked Railway-rival Kaushani Nath in five sets.

Morale-booster

The Siliguri-based Ankita, playing for Bengal ‘B’, scored a morale-boosting win in the opening encounter against former champion Railways.

“In the past year, I have realised only family and close friends help you in times of distress. When I was recuperating from injury, the attitude of my so-called friends from the table tennis circle left me shattered. I needed help from a psychologist to bounce back. Now I am out to prove a point,” said the country’s lone female qualifier in table tennis for the 2012 London Olympics.

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After Ankita’s fighting 11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8 win, the bespectacled Sagarika Mukherjee twice brought Railways back in the tie by scoring over Sataporni De (11-6, 14-12, 11-8) and Ankita (11-7, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5). In between Sagarika’s twin-strikes, Nikita Sarkar humbled the experienced Railway girl Moumita Dutta 11-1, 11-7, 11-9 in the third singles.

With the teams locked 2-2, Kaushani won the first set 11-8 and Sataporni took the second at 13-11, in the deciding rubber, when the match was abruptly halted to commence the opening ceremony!

Going by the script

The men’s team action went as per expectations. With holder Petroleum squad expected to arrive on Tuesday to commence its title-defence, last year’s runner-up Gujarat, semifinalists Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, host Telangana, Maharashtra-A, Bengal-A, TNTTA, Railways, Bengal-B, Haryana and Rajasthan have virtually ensured their places in the pre-quarterfinals.

A few surprises came when Telangana stunned UP 3-1 and TTTA humbled last year’s pre-quarterfinalists Karnataka 3-2.

In the women’s section, champion Bengal-A, Petroleum, TTTA, Maharashtra-B, Maharashtra-A, Telangana, Karnataka, Assam, Railways and Bengal-B stayed on course for a place in the round of 16.

In the only minor surprise, Assam’s Trisha Gogoi won her matches against higher-ranked Gujarat's Namna Jaiswal and Frenaz Chipia in her team’s 3-2 win.