Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Dabang Delhi held their nerve to pip Chennai Lions 8-7 in the last league tie here today to set up a semi-final clash with table-toppers U Mumba in the Ultimate Table Tennis..
Their win was not enough to stop the Lions from catapulting to the second position with 42 points and earning a clash against Goa Challengers in the second semi-final on Saturday.
Dabang finished on par with the Challengers, with 41 points, but won fewer matches than the team from Goa to get U Mumba in their path.
Germany’s Petrissa Solja (World No. 24) gave the Lions the early lead, whipping Krittwika Sinha Roy 3-0. She began strongly, attacking the lines to ease to a 4-1 lead in the first set. She held on to that advantage to win it 11-6.
The second set was a much tighter affair, with Krittwika keeping pace till 9-9. But a backhand error at that stage allowed Petrissa to go for the kill.The third set too turned out to be one-sided despite an initial fight from Krittwika.
The much-awaited contest between Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan G provided a rash of spectacular shots but not the close encounter that was expected. Sharath played an attacking game but Sathiyan defended smartly, forcing the World No. 37 into errors.
Sathiyan broke away at 5-5, taking four straight points to make it 9-5 in the first set. That was enough for him to win it 11-8.
The second set too was even only till 4-4. Sharath slipped into the lead for the first time, making it 6-4. But Sathiyan quickly caught up and wrapped it up at 11-8.
Sharath fell behind in the third set too, looking at a possible wipe-out at 5-8. But he clawed back to 8-8 and then 9-9 before taking the next 2 points to clinch a crucial point for the Lions.
Chennai Lions, however, regained the lead, with Sharath and Petrissa making the most of Dabang’s decision to field young Naina Jaiswal in the Mixed Doubles. Sweden’ Jon Persson stood up bravely for her partner but didn’t really stand a chance against the veteran pair.
Sharath-Petrissa bounced away to a facile 3-0 victory, giving away just 3, 5 and 2 points in the three games.Persson got his revenge in the next match, though, with Chennai Lions giving another young Anirban Ghosh, an opportunity.
Anirban showed his potential, unleashing a few impressive shots but couldn’t cope with Persson’s experience. He lost 3-11, 5-11, 8-11.
In the final match, Romania’s Bernadette Szocs (World No. 14) tamed Madhurika Patkar 3-0 to give her side the victory.
Dabang Delhi bt Chennai Lions 8-7
Women’s Singles: Krittwika Sinha Roy lost to Petrissa Solja 0-3 (6-11, 9-11, 6-11)
Men’s Singles: Sathiyan Gnanasekaran bt Sharath Kamal 2- 1 (11-8, 11-8, 9-11)
Mixed Doubles: Mixed Doubles: Jon Persson/ Naina Jaiswal lost to Sharath Kamal/ Petrissa Solja 0-3 (3-11, 5-11, 2-11)
Men’s Singles: Jon Persson bt Anirban Ghosh 3-0 (11-5, 11-8, 11-8)
Women’s Singles: Bernadette Szocs beat Madhurika Patkar 3-0 (11-5, 11-4, 11-10)