Magnificent Manika hands Bengaluru Smashers first win in IndianOil Ultimate Table Tennis Season 4
Rising India star Jeet Chandra impresses against World No. 33 Benedikt Duda
Pune, July 20, 2023: India's highest-ranked female paddler Manika Batra returned to winning ways on Thursday as she produced scintillating performances to hand Bengaluru Smashers first win in the ongoing IndianOil Ultimate Table Tennis Season 4 at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge-Balewadi in Pune.
Bengaluru Smashers have now jumped to fourth position in the league table with the 8-7 win over defending champions Chennai Lions.
The franchise-based league, promoted by Niraj Bajaj and Vita Dani under the auspices of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), has been a game-changer for Indian table tennis since its inception in 2017.
Manika, who lost to reigning national champion Sreeja Akula in the previous contest, looked at her imperious best in the second match (Women's Singles) of the tie and clinched a 2-1 win against the Chennai Lions' paddler.
The World No. 35 began the first game with a bang as she startled Sutirtha with her powerful forehands. Later, Manika also used her precise backhands to secure the game by a margin of 11-6.
The second game saw Sutirtha making a strong comeback. She took the lead at the start of the game and put Manika under pressure with her swift net play and accurate shots on both sides of the table. Sutirtha took her compatriot to the edge and won the game through a golden point.
Manika came back strongly in the third game as she used her reach to full advantage. The Asian Games bronze medallist did not let Sutirtha settle into her game and quickly took the game by 11-8 to win the match.
Earlier, veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal took his time to settle into the first match of the tie (Men's Singles) as Kirill Gerassimenko took an early lead in the first game. The Indian paddler then used his experience and precise backhand shots to come back into the game and brought the score down to 10-10. However, Kirill was quick to react to earn the golden point and a lead in the tie.
The second game also saw the Kazak paddler going into the lead at first, only for the two-time Asian Games medallist to make a comeback in an astonishing fashion. Top-notch topspins and sidespins were on display as Sharath showcased his class to win the game by 11-7. The third one also went down to the wire where Kirill reigned supreme to win the game and match through a golden point.
In the third match of the tie, Manika and Kirill defeated Sharath and Yangzi Liu 2-1 to extend Bengaluru's lead to 6-3.
Manika and Kirill found it difficult to play in sync in the beginning as the Chennai Lions pair took the first game 11-6 before the Bengaluru Smashers pair came roaring back and won the second game 11-9 to level the match.
Kirill and Manika then used swift movements to take the game by 11-7 and extend their franchise's lead to 6-3.
Rising Indian star Jeet Chandra showcased his potential in the fourth match of the tie despite losing 1-2 to World No. 33 Benedikt Duda. The Indian paddler began the first game with supreme confidence and shocked Duda with his energy and pinpoint shots to take the opening game by 11-9.
However, the German paddler reacted positively and won the last two games 11-9, 11-7 to reduce Bengaluru's lead to 7-5.
The last game of the tie was a women's singles match where Yangzi beat Natalia Bajor 2-1 but it was a little too late as the Bengaluru Smashers clinched their first victory of Season 4. Puneri Paltan Table Tennis will go up against Dabang Delhi T.T.C in the upcoming tie on Friday.
All the Season 4, powered by DafaNews, ties start at 7.30 PM with broadcast on Sports 18 and streamed on JioCinema. The tickets are available on BookMyShow.
Chennai Lions 7-8 Bengaluru Smashers
Sharath Kamal 1-2 Kirill Gerassimenko (10-11, 11-7, 10-11)
Sutirtha Mukherjee 1-2 Manika Batra (6-11, 11-10, 8-11)
Sharath/Yangzi 1-2 Kirill/Manika (11-6, 9-11, 7-11)
Benedikt Duda 2-1 Jeet Chandra (9-11, 11-9, 11-7)
Yangzi Liu 2-1 Natalia Bajor (5-11, 11-9, 11-6)