Young Indian paddler Diya Chitale bagged a crucial eighth team point against World No. 32 Yangzi Liu to secure a thrilling victory for U Mumba TT against Chennai Lions in IndianOil Ultimate Table Tennis Season 4 at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge-Balewadi here on Sunday night.
The Mumbai girl, however, lost her match by 6-11, 11-8, 3-11 against Liu after U Mumba TT reached the necessary eight team points required to win the tie against the defending champions. In the end, the overall score was 8-7 in favour of the Mumbai-based franchise.
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.
Earlier, World No. 18 Quadri Aruna lived up to his reputation from the start of the tie and comfortably defeated the two-time Asian Games gold medallist Achanta Sharath Kamal 3-0 to earn three valuable team points for his franchise.
The Nigerian paddler was all over Sharath in the opening game. He went into defensive mode early on to return the powerful shots of the star Indian player before unleashing his precise forehands to win the first game by 11-8. The second game also saw Aruna dominating the seven-times Commonwealth Games gold medallist as he won it with the same scoreline before taking the third game by 11-5 to give his franchise a perfect start in the tie.
In the second match (Women’s Singles), Lily Zhang defeated Sutirtha Mukherjee by 2-1 to extend her franchise’s lead to 5-1 in the tie.
It was a nail-biting match as both the paddlers fought for every point with swift movements and precise shots. However, in the end, it was Zhang who won the first game 11-10 through a golden point, a unique feature of the IndianOil UTT, powered by DafaNews, which determines the winner when the scores are locked at 10 in a game.
The six-time US national champion then bagged the second game by 11-7. However, Mukherjee secured a team point for his franchise by registering an 11-10 victory in the third game.
Manav Thakkar and Lily Zhang then beat the pair of Sharath and Yangzi Liu 2-1 in the third match (Mixed Doubles) to bring U Mumba TT ahead by 7-2 in the tie.
Sharath and Yangzi Liu showcased supreme coordination to take the first game by 11-6 before the U Mumba TT pair made a strong comeback to win the second game by 11-5. The third game went in the favour of Thakkar and Zhang by 11-9.
The fourth match (Men’s Singles) saw Thakkar going up against Benedikt Duda where the two-time European champion registered a 3-0 victory to reduce the deficit to 5-7 in the tie.
The World No. 34 was in complete control of the match from the first game as he took Game 11-8 before winning the second game by 11-9. The difference between their world ranking was evident as Duda registered an 11-4 win in the last game against the World No. 101.
All the Season 4 ties start at 7.30 PM with broadcast on Sports 18 and streamed on JioCinema.
Chennai Lions 7-8 U Mumba TT
Sharath Kamal 0-3 Quadri Aruna (8-11, 8-11, 5-11)
Sutirtha Mukherjee 1-2 Lily Zhang (10-11, 7-11, 11-10)
Sharath/Yangzi 1-2 Manav/Lily (11-6, 5-11, 9-11)
Benedikt Duda 3-0 Manav Thakkar (11-8, 11-9, 11-4)
Yangzi Liu 2-1 Diya Chitale (11-6, 8-11, 11-3).