Raipur, Jan 8 (IANS) Delhi's women paddlers caused the biggest upset of the championships, riding their way into the history book by entering the team championship final of the National Table Tennis Championships at the Balbir Juneja Indoor Stadium here Tuesday.
Delhi beat Maharashtra A, who won the title last year, 3-2 in an edge-of-the-seat semifinal. In the final to be played on Thursday, they will take on PSPB who beat Tamil Nadu 3-0 in the other semifinal.
Drawing inspiration from Delhi women, Haryana men also walked into the history book with their maiden semifinal entry. They beat Maharashtra B 3-0 in the pre-quarters and then blanked out Assam in the quarterfinals.
However, their progress was halted by the rampaging Petroleum Sports promotion Board (PSPB) team, led by Achanta Sharath Kamal, who is ranked 70 in the world.
In the semifinals, Delhi's turnaround was made possible by Neha Aggarwal, who is in the best form of her life, who took both her matches against Divya Deshpande and Mamata Prabhu, the crucial fifth rubber after Maharashtra had rallied to equal at 2-2. Neha beat Mamata 11-7, 13-11, 15-13 to seal the fate of Maharashtra.
Manika began on an excellent note against an off-colour Mamata Prabhu and Neha beat Divya to put Delhi 2-0 up. But Sanya Sehgal lost to Prajakta Tipale and Manika surrendered to Divya to give Maharashtra a semblance of a chance.
However, Neha shut out the challenge from Mamata to put Delhi through. Down 0-5, Neha made an excellent recovery in the third game to level the score at 6-6 and went 10-9 up. But on her serve, Neha returned wide but Mamata blew up her chance.
Manika Batra did contribute her might against West Bengal when she won both her matches to beat the team 3-2. Later, Neha, who lost her first match, accounted for the experienced Mousmi Paul in a thrilling four-setter in the decider.
Irrespective of the result in the final-PSPB is expected to wrest the title-Delhi can take heart from the fact that they have already ensured a silver medal for the team. As for the formidable PSPB, Ankita Das, Madhurika Patkar and K. Shamini made it a one-sided affair against Tamil Nadu.
Men: (PQF): PSPB bt Orissa 3-0, North Bengal bt Karnataka 3-0, Haryana bt Maharashtra B 3-0, Assam bt Maharashtra A 3-1, Gujarat bt Goa 3-0, RSPB bt Andhra Pradesh 3-0, West Bengal bt Chattisgarh 3-0, Tamil Nadu bt Punjab 3-0; QF: PSPB bt North Bengal 3-0, Haryana bt Assam 3-0, Gujarat bt RSPB 3-2, West Bengal bt Tamil Nadu 3-2; Semi-finals: PSPB bt Haryana 3-0, Gujarat vs West Bengal (in progress).
Women (PQF): Maharashtra A bt Haryana 3-0, Gujarat bt Madhya Pradesh 3-0, Delhi bt Assam 3-0, West Bengal bt Himachal Pradesh 3-0, PSPB bt Maharashtra B 3-0, RSPB bt Chattisgarh 3-0, Tamil Nadu bt Andhra Pradesh 3-1, North Bengal bt Chandigarh 3-0; QF: Maharashtra A bt Gujarat 3-1, Delhi bt West Bengal 3-2, PSPB bt RSPB 3-0, Tamil Nadu bt North Bengal 3-1; Semi-finals: PSPB bt Tamil Nadu 3-0, Delhi bt Maharashtra A 3-2.