Manesar: Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) men entered the team semifinals after they blanked Rajasthan 3-0 in the 78th Senior Nationals Table Tennis tournament at the Manesar Sports Club here on Wednesday.
PSPB will now take on Gujarat who beat Tamilnadu 3-1 in the first semifinal while it will be Haryana versus West Bengal in the second.
As anticipated, PSPB’s Sanil Shetty and G Sathiyan rolled over their opponents Sudhanshu Grover and Pankaj Kumar respectively but Harmeet Desai had a bad opening against Subham Ojha. The PSPB paddler, however, got his endgame right to see the team through.
When Arjun Ghosh failed against Ravindra Kotiyan of Maharashtra in the first rubber, West Bengal’s Anirban Nandi defeated Siddhesh Pande 3-1 and Sougata Sarkar downed Sanish Ambekar 3-1 to repair the early damage.
Arjun returned firing on all cylinders in his reverse singles and beat Siddhesh in straight games for the team score of 3-1.
Tamilnadu players, after having played a marathon tie against Karnataka in the quarterfinals, were visibly tired and wilted under the onslaught of Devesh Karia and Harsh Sachanandani despite Jignesh Jaiswal losing their opening rubber to the defensive Abhishek Ravichandran 1-3.
Devesh returned for the reverse singles and sealed the fate of Tamilnadu to beat Abhishek in straight games again.
But the match of the day was, undoubtedly, played between hosts and second-seeded Haryana and AAI which the former won 3-2.
With Soumyajit in their ranks, Haryana was expected to go through but Sarthak Gandhi’s consistency was unexpected surprise for one and all. After Soumyajit provided a good start, beating Sushmit Sriram in straight games, Jubin Kumar lost to Sarthak tamely.
But Sourav Saha brought Haryana back on the rails with a hard-fought win in spite of Anirban Ghosh taking the third rubber down to the wire with Soumyajit slated to play his reverse singles.
Sarthak, however, had different ideas and shocked Haryana’s new entrant fair and square after Soumyajit led 2-0.
Sarthak extended him first in the third game to win it 14-12. That was the turning point. Then he went on to take next two games to breath fresh life for AAI. Nevertheless, Jubin fought back nicely to pull it back for the hosts when Sushmit, leading 2-1, squandered their chance.