Petroleum inter-unit: Sharath Kamal shines as Indian Oil trumps ONGC in final

Sharath tames G. Sathiyan, Harmeet Desai to script his team’s title win; Manika Batra’s efforts go in vain as ONGC takes the women’s title.

Indian Oil men, well served by Sharath Kamal (third from left) and Manav Thakkar (extreme left), with coach-cum-manager Kanchan Basak in the Petroleum inter-unit table tennis tournament in New Delhi on Thursday. - RAKESH RAO

For years, the best team final in country’s table tennis is witnessed in the Petroleum inter-unit tournament, and not the National team championship.

This is bound to happen since the petroleum sector uses the services of every member of the National team. The resultant clash involves those forming the creamy layer of Indian table tennis in both sections. In the men’s team final that lived up to the expectations, Indian Oil’s Sharath Kamal and Manav Thakkar joined hands to end the unbeaten run of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation since 2015 with a 3-2 win at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex here on Thursday.

Riding on Sharath’s blistering form, Indian Oil twice levelled the match with the nine-time National champion beating World No. 30 G. Sathiyan and the newly-crowned National champion Harmeet Desai.

ONGC, which had taken the lead when Desai scored over Thakkar in the repeat result of the recent National final, and again when former National champion A. Amalraj beat Sudhanshu Grover, now looked at Sathiyan to pull off the deciding singles.

Thakkar beats Sathiyan

Thakkar, who stunned Sathiyan in the National semifinals at Hyderabad on Sunday, started slowly and conceded the opening set. In the next two, Thakkar came back strongly with some well-measured backhand placements to repeatedly fox Sathiyan.

The triumphant members of the ONGC women team, with coach-cum-manager Vishakha Vijay in New Delhi on Thursday. - RAKESH RAO

 

In the fourth and fifth sets, Sathiyan opened 4-0 leads but with contrasting outcomes. Though he managed to win the fourth to force the decider, he could not prevent Thakkar from making it 4-4 and 6-6 before trailing for the first time in the decider. Though Thakkar squandered a match-point, he regained his composure to win 12-10 and became a member of Indian Oil’s winning team for the first time.

The triumph was a kind of revenge for Indian Oil which was upstaged in the women’s team final on Wednesday evening.

Having beaten ONGC in the league stage, Indian Oil did not spare much thought in finalising its combination in the final. The decision to make youngster Diya Chithale play two singles and the National runner-up Krittwika Sinha Roy one backfired.

Manika Batra twice levelled the tie-score by winning her singles but she found no support from her Indian Oil team-mates. Diya lost the first singles to Ankita Das and Krittiwika surprisingly surrendered to Divya Despande in the third. In the fifth, Pooja Sahasrabudhe overpowered Diya to clinch it for ONGC.

Team championship (finals)
  • Men: Indian Oil bt ONGC 3-2 (Manav Thakkar lost to Harmeet Desai 8-11, 6-11, 7-11; Sharath Kamal bt G. Sathiyan 5-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9; Sudhanshu Grover lost to A. Amalraj 5-11, 5-11, 8-11; Sharath bt Desai 9-11, 11-6, 11-3, 10-12, 11-4; Thakkar bt Sathiyan 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 4-11, 12-10).
  • Women: ONGC bt Indian Oil 3-2 (Ankita Das bt Diya Chithale 11-7, 11-8, 11-3; Pooja Sahasrabudhe lost to Manika Batra 11-13, 9-11, 8-11; Divya Deshpande bt Krittwika Sinha Roy 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8; Manika bt Ankita 7-11, 8-11, 12-10, 7-11; Pooja bt Diya 11-5, 11-9, 11-13, 11-9).