Gujarat Men to Play Delhi, Maharashtra Women Face West Bengal for Team Gold

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Favourites Gujarat registered an easy 3-0 victory over West Bengal, while Delhi upset second-seeded Maharashtra 3-2 in the semifinals of the men’s table tennis team competition at the 36th National Games on Wednesday.

While Gujarat will play Delhi for the men’s team gold, defending champions Maharashtra will take on West Bengal in the women’s final.

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Maharashtra defeated Tamil Nadu 3-1, while Bengal beat Telangana 3-0 in the semifinals of the women’s competition.

In the first men’s semifinal, Gujarat captain Harmeet Desai was under pressure when Anirban Ghosh found the range of strokes to take a 2-1 lead. But the experienced Harmeet slowed down the pace to win the last two games 11-4 11-3. Manav Thakkar and Manush Shah then registered comfortable wins over Ronit Bhanja and Jeet Chandra to put Gujarat in the gold medal match.

The other men’s semifinal between Maharashtra and Delhi went to the wire with Payas Jain stepping up to take his team to victory. Jain first defeated former national champion Sanil Shetty in the second match to give Delhi a 2-0 lead. However, Siddesh Pande got the better of Yashansh Malik and then Shetty defeated Sudhanshu Grover to restore parity.

But if the second seeds were hoping to improve on their bronze medal-winning performance in the last edition of the Games, Jain had different ideas. His attacking play was too much for Maharashtra’s Deepak Patil to handle and the Delhi boy clinched the match 11-9 11-6 12-10 to take his team to the final.

In the women’s semifinal, S Yashini of Tamil Nadu fought back from the brink to spring a surprise on Diya Chitale in the first match of the tie against Maharashtra.

Chitale, who represented India at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, opened up a 5-0 lead in the fourth game having won two of the first three. But Yashini kept her head down and piled up pressure on her opponent with quality backhand winners to take the match into the decider.

The two players fought hard till 5-5 before Yashini forced a baffled Chitale to make errors.

But Swastika Ghosh restored parity by thrashing V Kouwshika and Reethrishya Tennison put all her experience to use to get the better of C R Harshvardhini and put her team ahead.

Chitale was then under pressure to deliver the goods in the reverse fixture and close out the match. Though she wasn’t at her best on the day, the youngster kept her nerves under pressure to beat Kowshika in five sets.

In the other semifinal, the result was a foregone conclusion after Ayhika Mukherjee got the better of Akula Sreeja in the second match which went to the wire.

Sreeja managed to save a couple of match points, but Ayhika kept her nerves to win 3-2. Sutirtha Mukherjee and the experienced Mouma Das won the other two matches.

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