UTT: Goa noses past Dabang in a thriller; Archana clinches match-winner

In the tie-deciding game, Archana and Krittiwika produced a close battle before the former stamped her authority.

Archana Kamath (in picture) beat Krittwika Sinha Roy 6-11, 11-2, 11-8.   -  UTT

The depth in the Goa Challengers line-up played its part to the hilt as this fighting unit  bounced back to a 8-7 triumph over defending champion Dabang Delhi in the Ultimate Table Tennis league here on Friday.

Though the teams are virtually assured of a place in the semifinals, the battle for supremacy was fought on an even keel with Goa claiming the bragging rights.

After three rounds, Goa leads with 26 points, followed by Chennai Lions and U Mumba (24 each), Dabang Delhi (23), RP-SG Mavericks (21) and Puneri Paltan (17).

Goa suffered a setback before the start of the match when World No. 9 Cheng I-Ching had to be rested owing to indisposition. Her replacement Shruti Amrute, making her debut, was expected to be blanked by Bernadetter Szocs, the Romanian ranked 14th in the world. But after losing the first two games, Shruti pulled off the third on ‘golden point.’

Read: Sathiyan, Archana eye Olympic berth in mixed doubles

The point given by Shruti spurred her teammates to believe that they could come out stronger in this match. Eventually, given the margin of Goa’s victory, Shruti’s contribution did prove crucial.

An upbeat A. Amalraj, ranked 137, then nailed 63rd-ranked Jon Persson 2-1 in an enthralling battle to repeat his 2016 triumph in a World Tour event. The match witnessed some long, thrilling rallies and left Amalraj roaring after taking the final point.

In the mixed doubles, World championship medallist Alvaro Robles partnered Archana Kamath and bounced back from 0-5 to take the first game on ‘golden point’. But G. Sathiyan and Szocs were not to be denied as they claimed the next two, to put Delhi 5-4 ahead.

However, Sathiyan could not add to the lead. Robles took the first two games before Sathiyan restored parity at 6-6.

This left Archana looking to seal the tie for Goa against Krittwika. “Krittwika has always been a tough rival for me,” Archana was to say later. When Krittwika, playing aggressively took the first game, Dabang sighted victory. But Archana bounced back to race away with the
second game.

In the tie-deciding game, Archana and Krittiwika produced a close battle before the former stamped her authority.

The results

Goa Challengers beat Dabang Delhi 8-7 (Shruti Amrute lost to Bernadette Szocs 8-11, 8-11, 11-10; A. Amalraj bt Jon Persson 11-7, 8-11, 11-8; Alvaro Robles and Archana lost to G. Sathiyan and Szocs 11-10, 9-11, 8-11; Robles bt Sathiyan 11-9, 11-8, 5-11; Archana bt Krittwika Sinha Roy 6-11, 11-2, 11-8)