UTT: Pitchford dazzles as Falcons cruises into final

Falcons TTK was too powerful for Maharashtra United and won the first semi-final 14-5, in an exciting night of table tennis at the NSCI indoor stadium.

Liam Pitchford won both his singles matches to lead the Falcons to the final of the Ultimate Table Tennis league.   -  Vivek Bendre

Fifty-nine ranked Liam Pitchford proved himself on a day it mattered the most and excelled in both his singles matches, defeating world number eight Wong Chun Ting 2-1 and Harmeet Desai 3-0 to take the Falcons to the finals of the Ceat Ultimate Table Tennis league.

Falcons TTK was too powerful for Maharashtra United and won the first semi-final 14-5, in an exciting night at the NSCI indoor stadium. The Falcons received a huge boost from Wu Yang, who won both her women’s singles ties by 3-0 margins.

Going into the semi-final as the first team from the league phase, Falcons kept its nose ahead right through and clinched victory in the seventh match, being the first side to reach 14 points as per event rules. The last two singles ties were not played.

Sutirtha Mukherjee wrested the first game against an off-colour Liu Ja at 11-10, sparking celebrations in the Falcons enclosure, as team-mates clad in yellow leapt up at game-point. Maharashtra’s positive start eventually faded away, as was expected from a team that just managed to sneak into the last four.

Sanil Shetty tried to rattle higher ranked rival, Wong Chun, with relentless attacking in the evening's opening match. The gambit worked in the second game, which the Mumbai lad won. Hong Kong’s ace and world number eight Chun, played a patient game to assert himself and win the first and third games.

Falcons’ hopes of a fight-back were dashed by Wong’s solid defence and anticipation, in between stunning backhand winners. Sanil gritted it out, but the gap between the two became clear as the match progressed, giving Maharashtra United a boost at the start.

Wong returned for more singles action against Liam, after a mixed doubles win by Harmeet Desai/Fu Yu had got local fans on their feet. The Falcons duo of Sanil/Lee Ho Ching tried hard to swing the match their way, but in vain.

Maharashtra trailed by one point at 4-5 and was banking on the Hong Kong player to pull his side into the lead. Liam’s reach matched his ambitions and was determined to take down Wong at his own game. The lanky Englishman celebrated every point in a 2-1 win.

Scores: Falcons TTC bt Maharashtra United 14-5
MS: Sanil Shetty lost to Wong Chun Ting 1-2 (8-11, 11-5, 3-11)
WS: Wu Ying bt Pooja Sahasrabudhe 3-0 (11-2, 11-4, 11-2)
XD: Sanil Shetty & Lee Ho Ching lost to Harmeet Desai & Fu Yu 1-2 (6-11, 11-5, 5-11)
MS: Liam Pritchford bt Wong Chun Ting 2-1 (11-8, 9-11, 11-4)
WS: Wu Yang bt Liu Jia 3-0 (11-5, 11-5, 11-6)
MS: Liam Pitchford bt Harmeet Desai 3-0 (11-6, 11-10, 11-7)
WS: Sutirtha Mukherjee bt Liu Jia 1-0 (11-10)