Gnanasekaran Sathiyan’s heroics were instrumental in helping Dabang Delhi TTC to end its Ultimate Table Tennis league stage with a double delight. Not only did the Delhi franchise avenge the loss in the third edition of UTT against Chennai Lions but, more importantly, Wednesday’s win assured itself of a top spot in the league stage and enter the semifinals in style.
Riding on Sathiyan’s high-class performance, with a 3-0 wipe-out of his Chennai and India senior pro A. Sharath Kamal, Dabang Delhi had pocketed the tie with the last of the 15 games remaining.
However, the last game - the deciding game between Chennai Lions’ rookie Prapti Sen, who got a look in with Sutirtha Mukherjee rested, and southpaw Barbora Balazova - turned out to be a cliffhanger. With both the teams tied at 42 points apiece, the winner was to be decided through a decider.
And a crucial backhand block followed by a classy backhand top-spin by Barbora at 9-9 meant it turned out to be a perfect outing for Sathiyan and Co.
Despite the loss, Chennai Lions is all but assured of a second place in the points tally. Thursday’s last league match - the Maharashtra Derby - will be a knockout match with the winner set to qualify for the semifinals.
Chennai Lions lost to Dabang Delhi TTC 6-9 (Sharath Kamal lost to Sathiyan Gnanasekaran 10-11, 3-11, 6-11; Yangzi Liu bt Sreeja Akula 11-8, 8-11, 11-8; Sharath & Yangzi lost to Sathiyan & Barbora Balazova 7-11, 6-11, 11-7; Benedikt Duda bt Jon Persson 8-11, 11-6, 11-7; Prapti Sen lost to Balazova 6-11, 11-4, 9-11).
The standings: Dabang Delhi TTC 43 points (5 ties); Chennai Lions 42 (5); Goa Challengers 36 (5); Bengaluru Smashers 35 (5); U Mumba TT 28 (4); Puneri Paltan TT 28 (4). Thursday’s fixture: U Mumba TT vs Puneri Paltan TT (7.30pm).
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