Goa Challengers formalize semi-final lineup of UTT

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New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS) Taiwan’s Cheng I-Ching and India’s Amalraj Anthony engineered an easy 11-4 victory for Goa Challengers, ousting Puneri Paltan from the Ultimate Table Tennis here on Wednesday.

The Challengers formalized the last four standing with their win, joining U Mumba, Dabang Delhi and Chennai Lions in the semifinals. Delhi and Chennai clash in the last tie on Thursday to decide the line-up.

Cheng and Anthony romped home in their Singles matches and also successfully paired up in the Mixed Doubles to garner 8 mega points for Goa.

Spain’s Alvaro Robles and India’s Archana Kamath collected 1 and 2 points each to make it a grand victory.

World No. 9 Cheng began Goa’s charge, rattling Ayhika Mukherjee of Paltan with her array of big shots. Ayhika defended smartly in the first set but couldn’t sustain the fight beyond the halfway stage. From 6-6, she capitulated to an 8-11 defeat.

Cheng got a grip on her game by then, and bounced away to a 6-0 lead. She conceded only one point thereafter to make it a walk in the park. She was equally dominant in the third, wrapping it 11-5 to give the Challengers the perfect start.

Robles, however, couldn’t contain Chuang Chih-Yuan in the Men’s Singles, allowing Paltan to keep their heads above water. He stayed abreast of Chuang till 9-9 but gave away the next two points to go down 9-11.

He was up for the fight in the second set, though, countering the World No. 36 with his own brand of shots. It fetched him the desired result and a crucial point for his team. The third set, however, proved to be beyond him, as Chuang broke away at 6-4 to wrap it 11-5.

Cheng then returned to pair up with Anthony in the Mixed Doubles, looking to seal Goa’s place in the semis. They fell behind 0-5 quickly but had the temperament to recover and make it 6-6. They simply walked away from there to win the first set 11-7.

The second, ironically, saw an exactly opposite story. Cheng and Anthony created a 4-point lead at 7-3, only to see the Paltan pair of Chuang-Mukherjee catch up with them. They lost it 9-11. The Goan pair cut down their mistakes in the third to clinch it 11-7.

In the reverse Men’s Singles, Anthony got the better of Harmeet Desai 3-0. It proved to be a surprisingly one-sided contest, with he racing away to a 11-7, 11-7 win the first two sets. The third was closer, with Desai even sniffing a win at 10-8. But Anthony clinched the next 3 points for a satisfying win.

In the reverse Women’s Singles, Kamath overcame Sabine Winter 8-11,11-6, 11-9.

–IANS

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