UTT 2019: Dabang Delhi reaches final with thrilling win over U Mumba

The first semifinal of the 2019 Ultimate Table Tennis league between Dabang Delhi and U Mumba went down to the wire.

Dabang Delhi's G. Sathiyan and Bernadette Szocs celebrate after winning their mixed doubles encounter against U Mumba's Manav Thakkar and Doo Hoi Kem.   -  UTT

This battle for a place in the final of the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) league could well go down as the most thrilling and dramatic seen in all three seasons so far.

In the final best-of-15 game, with U Mumba and Dabang Delhi tied 7-7, the prayers of a nervous Krittwika Sinha Roy were finally answered on 'golden point' when her practice-partner and a previously-unbeaten Sutirtha Mukherjee sent a return long.

It was the fourth tie-point for Dabang Delhi's Krittwika who appeared a bundle of nerves for the better part of the final rubber where she was required to win just one game. Sutirtha, needing to win all three, won the first game, saved two tie-points in the second game and one in the third.

She almost took Mumba to the final but faltered on the final point. It's scant consolation for her that she remained unbeaten in the competition.

In Sunday’s final, Dabang will face the winner of Saturday’s semifinal featuring Goa Challengers and Chennai Lions.

Before Sutritha, it was Manav Thakkar who kept alive Mumba in the contest. Walking in with Mumba trailing 3-6, the World No. 156 upstaged Jon Persson, ranked 63rd, 2-1 in a gripping encounter.

Thakkar could have won 3-0 had he not squandered five match-points from 6-10 in the third. In the eventual analysis, this miss from Thakkar also proved very costly for U Mumba.

Equally, Krittwika’s contribution ensured that all the good work done previously done by Dabang’s duo of Bernadette Szocs and G. Sathiyan did not prove futile.

Bernadette produced her near-best against a somewhat circumspect Doo Hoi Kem, in the opener. She won the first two games before dropping a close third. Sathiyan doubled the lead after another 2-1 verdict, this time against the flamboyant Kirill Gerassimenko who took the opening game.

In the mixed doubles that followed, Sathiyan and Bernadette dropped the first game before bouncing back. This gave Dabang a comfortable 6-3 lead before Mumba’s Thakkar and Sutitha almost turned the match on its head.

Dabang Delhi bt U Mumba 8-7

Bernadette Szocs bt Doo Hoi Kem 11-5, 11-8, 10-11

G. Sathiyan bt Kirill Gerassimenko 6-11, 11-7, 11-8

Sathiyan and Bernadette bt Manav Thakkar and Doo Hoi Kem 9-11, 11-9, 11-8

Jon Persson lost to Thakkar 10-11, 9-11, 11-10

Krittwika Sinha Roy lost to Sutirtha Mukherjee 9-11, 10-11. 11-10

Saturday’s semifinal: Chennai Lions v Goa Challengers  (7 pm)