Overseas recruits needed a helping hand from Sharath Kamal to shape Chennai Lions’ much needed 10-5 victory over Puneri Paltan in the Ultimate Table Tennis league in New Delhi on Sunday.
On a day when foreigners proved stronger to their Indian counterparts all four singles, Germany's Petrissa Solja, ranked 26 and 'birthday boy' Portugal’s Apolonia Tiago, ranked 52nd, played their part to perfection for Chennai. Petrissa tamed Ayhika Mukherjee 3-0 and Tiago
bounced back to stop Harmeet Desai 2-1.
Petrissa took time to figure out the returns coming off Ayhika’s new rubber on the forehand side but then stayed in control. Desai, started out aggressively to take the first game. Once Apolonia managed to snatch the ‘golden point’ in the second, the Indian no longer proved a threat.
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With the Commonwealth singles champions contributing just one point to Paltan, the dice was heavily loaded in favour of Lions.
Sharath joined Petrissa, the reigning mixed doubles bronze medallist in the 2019 World Championship, and blanked Desai and Sabine Winter to establish Chennai’s winning 8-1 lead.
In the remaining two singles, as though going by the trend of the dray, it was Paltan’s turn to pull things back a little through its foreign hands.
Placed 28th, Chuang Chin Yuan is the highest ranked player in the competition. He raised Paltan’s tally by beating Sharath 2-1. In the second game, Yuan bounced back from 2-6 and 9-10 to win the ‘golden point’. In the third, Sharath jumped to a 5-0 lead to make it 11-3.
In the final singles, Madhurika Patkar, ranked 50 places below Sabine at 112, was at her aggressive best. She pulled off the second game at 11-5 and continued with her spirited ways until the German completed a 2-1 triumph by claiming the ‘golden point’.
Monday’s fixture: Dabang Delhi v U Mumba (7 pm).
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