UTT: Sharath's triumphs prove in vain for Chennai Lions

Chennai Lions failed to live up to expectations as Doo Ho Kem starred for U Mumba in a 9-6 win.

Sharath Kamal's Chennai Lions fell prey to U Mumba on Friday.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

These are early days in the Ultimate Table Tennis league but the favourites are finding it difficult to get going.

For the second day in succession, the underdog ran the last mile faster to cross the line. After debutant Puneri Paltan showed the way by stopping holder Dabang Delhi on Thursday, U Mumba followed the footprints and upstaged pre-match favourite Chennai Lions 9-6.

Playing like a team possessed, Mumba never trailed and eventually rode home on World No 12 Doo Ho Kem’s expected 3-0 triumph over Madhurika Patkar in the final rubber.

Prior to this match, Mumba stayed ahead thanks to the stunning 2-1 victory of Sutirtha Mukherjee over World No. 26 Petrissa Solja in the opening singles.

In the second, World No. 52 Tiago Apolonia could not raise the bar against debutant Kirill Gerssimenko. The 45th ranked Kazakh attacked relentlessly from the word ‘go’ and eventually won 2-1 to double Mumba’s lead.

Over the next two matches, Sharath Kamal held centre-stage. Chennai’s spearhead, in the company of Petrissa won two games over Manav Thakkar and Doo Hoi Kem to make it 4-4. But Mumba nosed ahead by snatching the third game.

Sharath returned to take on Thakkar in the fourth rubber and levelled the score at 5-5 by taking the opening game. But Thakkar, playing without any pressure, produced some awe-inspiring retrieves and bounced right back to take the second.

In the third game, Thakkar led 7-3 as Sharath erred repeatedly each time the rallies got longer. Just when it looked like curtains for Sharath, the veteran roared right back to lead 10-9 and then clinched the ‘golden’ point. This left the tie levelled at 6-6.

The much-awaited deciding singles did not live up to expectations. Doo played to her high ranking and breezed past Madhurika who started off well in every game before fading away in contrasting ways.

 

The results:

U Mumba beat Chennai Lions 9-6 (Sutirtha Mukherjee bt Petrissa Solja
11-7, 11-10, 5-11; Kirill Gerssimenko bt Tiago Apolonia 11-10, 11-9,
5-11; Manav Thakkar and Doo Hoi Kem lost to Sharath Kamal and Petrissa
Solja 8-11, 8-11, 11-7; Manav Thakkar lost to Sharath Kamal 7-11,
11-5, 10-11; Doo Hoi Kem bt Madhurika Patkar 11-10, 11-7, 11-5).

Saturday’s fixture: RP-SG Mavericks, Kolkata vs Goa Challengers (7 pm).