There’s little to choose between Falcons TTC and RP-SG Mavericks when they line-up for the CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis Powered by Kellogg’s second semi-final at the Netaji Indoor Stadium here on Saturday.
Both teams have won four ties each and just two points separated them in the league standings. Their league face-off, two days ago at the same venue, proved it was a battle of equals with Falcons eking out a narrow 11-10 win.
Falcons hold a slight edge as they are the defending champions and have won both their previous meetings. But unlike Season 1 when Mavericks finished last, they have been a revelation this season notching impressive victories to finish second in the league standings.
Falcons’ Sanil Shetty and Mavericks’ captain Harmeet Desai hold key to their team’s fortunes as their role in the mixed doubles and singles could prove decisive.
With the first semi-final on Friday going down to the wire another cracker of a contest is on cards.
Venue: Netaji Indoor Stadium, Kolkata
Head to head: Ties played 2; Mavericks 0, Falcons 2.
Season 2 record: Mavericks WWWWL, Points 58; Falcons WLWWW, Points 56.
The impactful players
Liam Pitchford (Falcons): The Englishman has been an inspirational captain winning all his six matches and is the only unbeaten player this season.
Sanil Shetty-Bernadette Szocks (Falcons): The mixed doubles pair have also played a part in their team’s run to the semis winning four out of their five matches. Interestingly, the only league match that Falcons lost (4-17 against Dabang Smashers) coincided with Shetty and Szocs defeat in the tie.
Sabine Winter (Mavericks): The German star has led the team’s charge winning 12 games.
Points logged by Liam Pitchford across two seasons
Per cent, the winning rate in singles by Mavericks in Season 2, the best by any team this season
Ties played by Sanil Shetty in CEAT UTT, the most by any player.
RP-SG Mavericks: Men: Mattias Karlsson (Sweden) World No. 20, Harmeet Desai, Kou Lei (Ukraine) World No33, Siddhesh Pande. Women: Doo Hoi Kem (Hong Kong) World No. 13, Ayhika Mukherjee, Mouma Das, Sabine Winter (Germany) World No. 60. Coaches: Arup Basak, Elena Timina.
Falcons TTC: Men: Sanil Shetty, Liam Pitchford (England) World No. 49, Alvaro Robles (Spain) World No. 56, Ronit Bhanja. Women: Bernadette Szocs (Romania) World No. 36, Matilda Ekholm (Sweden) World No. 35, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Priyadarshini Das. Coaches: Soumyadeep Roy, Vesna Ojstersek (Slovenia).