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CHENG I-CHING of Team Goa Challengers during the Ultimate Table Tennis League played between Team Team Chennai Lions and Team Goa Challengers at Thayagaraj Stadium in New Delhi, India on July 31, 2019. Photo : Vaqaas Mansuri / Focus Sports / Ultimate Table Tennis

Chennai Lions roar as Goa Challengers let them slip through

UTT MEDIA

New Delhi

India’s star player Sharath Kamal tapped into his bag of experience to give Chennai Lions a nerve-wracking 8-7 victory over Goa Challengers in the Ultimate Table Tennis here on Wednesday.

The World No 32 first shepherded a shaky Petrissa Solja to collect two crucial Mixed Doubles points for his side; he, then, absorbed a big scare from Amalraj Anthony to add two more into the team’s kitty in the reverse Men’s Singles.

His 4 points, coupled with 2 from Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia and 1 from Petrissa, meant that the Lions needed only 1 more point in the fifth and final clash.

The Women’s Singles, featuring two Indians, saw Madhurika Patkar steal that solitary point against a rampaging Archana Kamath to seal the win for the Lions. Madhurika lost 1-2 but pumped her fist in delight at saving the day for her team.

Earlier, Goa’s Cheng I-Ching too survived a minor scare to put her side ahead in the opening Women’s Singles.

The World No 8 from Taiwan spurted to a big 6-0 lead in the first, only to see Petrissa claw back into the game, allowing it to go all the way to 10-10.

Cheng, however, unleashed a powerful forehand to clinch the crucial golden point and the first point for her team.

She was on song in the second set, though, racing away to a commanding 9-1 lead. She conceded only one more point to give herself a nice big win.

The final set, however, saw a different story unfold. Petrissa played a steady game to win it 11-6, tossing one point into the Lions bag.

In an all-European Men’s Singles clash, Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia put up a dominant display to bring the Lions back into the game. Tiago pulled out his big shots to unsettle Alvaro Robles of Spain.

Tiago won the first set 11-5 but lost his way in the next, capitulating to a 2-11 defeat. He, however, regained his composure to clinch the third set 11-7.

In the crucial Mixed Doubles, Sharath and Petrissa fell behind straight away, losing to Amalraj Anthony and Cheng I-Ching 9-11 in the first set. Sharath, however, went on the offensive to collect crucial points to set up an 11-6 win.

The decider was a humdinger, with Sharath-Petrissa conceding the early advantage. They, however, fought back from 4-8 down to make it 10-10, before claiming the golden point.

In the reverse Men’s Singles, Sharath once again began on the wrong foot, giving away the first set rather easily at 2-11. He, however, was back to his usual attacking self, jumping to a 6-1 lead. He held on to the advantage to close it 11-9.

In the decider, he was well poised at 10-6 but Amalraj, looking as cool as is possible in a cauldron, made it 10-10. It suddenly became a tense encounter, ending with Sharath’s slow, low serve which brooked no response from Amalraj.

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