UTT 2019: Goa Challengers rides on Amalraj show to reach semifinals

The hero of Goa’s big win was Anthony Amalraj who handed out a 3-0 drubbing to the recently-crowned Commonwealth champion Harmeet Desai to give his team the winning lead.

Anthony Amalraj, one of the fastest players on the Indian circuit, produced several close-to-the-table whipped returns on both flanks to keep the crowd enthralled.   -  UTT

Goa Challengers knocked out last-placed Puneri Paltan 11-4 and sealed a semifinal-berth in the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) league in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Paltan needed to win the tie by a seven-point margin, at least, to catch-up with Goa on 34 points and then advance on the basis of head-to-head result of this encounter. But Goa, determined to make amends for its 4-11 shock loss to U Mumba, proved too hot to handle.

Archana Kamath provided the finishing touches as she stunned Sabine Winter 2-1.

The hero of Goa’s big win was Anthony Amalraj who handed out a 3-0 drubbing to the recently-crowned Commonwealth champion Harmeet Desai to give his team the winning lead.

After World No. 9 Cheng I-Ching expectedly blanked 122 Ayhika Mukherjee 3-0 to give Goa a flying start, the 1-2 loss of Alvaro Robles to favourite Chaung Ching-Yuan kept Paltan alive in the match.

What followed was the ‘Amalraj Show’. With Cheng I-Ching, Amalraj consolidated Goa’s lead by beating another India-Chinese Taipei pair of Ayhika Mukherjee and Chuang Chih-Yuan 2-1. But the former national champion was not done yet.

Amalraj, one of the fastest players on the Indian circuit, produced several close-to-the-table whipped returns on both flanks to keep the crowd enthralled. Even after claiming the first two games comfortably, he did not offer Desai a consolation game. Amalraj bounced back from 8-10 to win the ‘golden point’.

In the final singles, Archana played way over her world ranking of 139 to upstage 58th-ranked Sabine 2-1. Indeed, with Goa assured of a big win, the young Indian played without pressure.

The results:

Goa Challengers beat Puneri Paltan 11-4

Cheng I-Ching bt Ayhika Mukherjee 11-8, 11-1, 11-5

Alvaro Robles lost to Chuang Chih-Yuan 9-11. 11-10, 5-11

Anthony Amalraj and I-Ching bt Chih-Yuan and Ayhika 11-7, 9-11, 11-7

Anthony Amalraj bt Harmeet Desai 11-7, 11-7, 11-10

Archana Kamath bt Sabine Winter 8-11, 11-6, 11-9

Thursday’s fixture: Chennai Lions v Debang Delhi (7 pm)