Chinese Taipei paddler Cheng I-Ching and India’s Amalraj Anthony engineered an easy 11-4 victory for Goa Challengers, ousting Puneri Paltan Table Tennis from the Ultimate Table Tennis league here on Wednesday.
The Challengers formalized the last four standing with their win, joining U Mumba, Dabang Delhi T.T.C. and Chennai Lions in the semifinals. Delhi and Chennai clash in the last tie on Thursday to decide the order of the line-up.
I-Ching and Amalraj romped home in their singles matches and successfully paired up in the Mixed Doubles match to garner 8 mega points for Goa.
Spain’s Alvaro Robles and India’s Archana Kamath collected 1 and 2 points each to make it a grand victory.
World No. 9 Cheng I-Ching began Goa’s charge, rattling Ayhika Mukherjee of Paltan with her array of big shots. Ayhika defended smartly in the first game but couldn’t sustain the fight beyond the halfway stage. From 6-6, she capitulated to an 8-11 defeat.
I-Ching got a grip on her game by then and bounced away to a 6-0 lead. She conceded only one point thereafter to make it a walk in the park. She was equally dominant in the third, wrapping it 11-5 to give the Challengers the perfect start.
Alvaro Robles, however, couldn’t contain Chuang Chih-Yuan in the Men’s Singles, allowing Paltan to keep their heads above water. He stayed abreast of Chih-Yuan till 9-9 but gave away the next two points to go down 9-11.
He was up for the fight in the second game, though, countering the World No. 36 with his own brand of shots. It fetched him the desired result and a crucial 1 point for his team. The third game, however, proved to be beyond him, as Chih-Yuan broke away at 6-4 to wrap it 11-5.
I-Ching then returned to pair up with Amalraj in the Mixed Doubles, looking to seal Goa’s place in the semis. They fell behind 0-5 quickly but had the temperament to recover and make it 6-6. They simply walked away from there to win the first game 11-7.
The second, ironically, saw an exactly opposite story. I-Ching and Amalraj created a 4-point lead at 7-3, only to see the Paltan pair of Chih-Yuan-Ayhika catch up with them. They lost it 9-11. The Goan pair cut down their mistakes in the third to clinch it 11-7.
In the reverse Men’s Singles, Amalraj got the better of Harmeet Desai 3-0. It proved to be a surprisingly one-sided contest, with Amalraj racing away to an 11-7, 11-7 win the first two games. The third was closer, with Harmeet even sniffing a win at 10-8. But Amalraj clinched the next 3 points for a satisfying win.
In the reverse Women’s Singles, Archana Kamath overcame Sabine Winter, prevailing losing 8-11,11-6, 11-9.
Puneri Paltan Table Tennis lost to Goa Challengers: 4-11
Women's Singles: Ayhika Mukherjee lost to Cheng-I-Ching 0-3 (8-11, 1-11, 5-11)
Men's Singles: Chuang Chih-Yuan bt Alvaro Robles 2-1 (11-9, 10-11, 11-5)
Mixed Doubles: Chuang Chih-Yuan & Ayhika Mukherjee lost to Amalraj Anthony & Cheng-I-Ching 1-2 (7-11, 11-9, 7-11)
Men's Singles: Harmeet Desai lost to Amalraj Anthony 0-3 (7-11, 7-11, 10-11)
Women's Singles: Sabine Winter lost to Archana Kamath 1-2 (11-8, 6-11, 9-11
Thursday’s Fixture - Chennai Lions vs Dabang Delhi T.T.C. at 7 pm on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD, Star Sports Select 1, Star Sports Select 1 HD, Hotstar and JioTV