Smashers were buoyed by two upset wins with the first one coming in the very first match of the Tie. World Number 110 Sathityan Gnansekaran surprised world number eight, Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, while Madhurika Patkar became the first Indian woman player in the UTT to win a singles match against a foreign player when the world number 190 beat world number 37 Fu Yu.
Gnansekaran provided Smashers with the perfect start taking on the world number 8 Ting aggressive play early on. Not looking for long rallies, Gnansekaran went for broke at the first opportunity he got and that helped him take the first game 11-3.
Ting composed himself in the second game and got a two-point lead, but Gnansekaran looked in top form and countered Ting’s drive across quite well and got on top once again. The big moment in the game came when Gnansekaran took on Ting in a long rally. The Hong Kong international put in solid defence but Gnansekaran applied the pressure well and took the second game 11-9. Ting opened the account for Maharashtra United winning the third game 11-7.
Smashers extended their lead to 4-2 in the second match. Rio Olympic bronze medallist Kim Song I representing Smashers made short work of India’s Pooja Sahasabhudhe winning the first two games 11-2 and 11-5 respectively. However, the world number 19 Song failed to close out the match as she succumbed 9-11 to Sahasabhudhe in the third.
In the third match – mixed doubles – Smashers got the bonus points with Indian Anthony Amalraj and Ukraine’s Tetyana Bilenko overcoming a spirited duo of Harmeet Desai and Liu Jia. The pattern of the first two games followed with Smashers winning the first two games and Maharshtra United pulling one back in the final game.
Ting had the chance at redemption when he took on Ukraine’s Luo Lei in the fourth match of the Tie, but Ting failed to get going as Lei exploited Ting’s struggle with the drives to take the first two games 11-10 and 11-9 before Ting grabbed the third 11-5.
Despite having a lead of 8-4, Smashers would not have breathed easy as Maharashtra United’s world number 37 Fu Yu was left with two of her games, and she won the first match of the night for her team blanking Bilenko 3-0 with a score line of 11-8, 11-10, 11-6. Smashers lead was cut short to just one point now.
Match six pitted world number 14 Portugal’s Marcos Freitas against India’s Harmeet Desai and it turned out to be a thrilling encounter with Freitas sealing the first game 11-6 before Desai got one back with stellar display of offensive play 11-8. Freitas showcased imperious defensive skills while Desai brought out flashes of brilliance. But in the decider, Desai’s eagerness to attack handed Freitas the advantage as the Portuguese star wiped away a three-point deficit and won the match with a golden point.
Maharashtra United fell behind by two points, but with Fu Yu taking on Smashers’ Madurika Patkar (World No 190), Maharashtra United would have eyed all three points, but Madurika blunted the Chinese-born Portuguese player’s attack and notched up an upset 11-9, 7-11, 11-10 to put Smashers two points away from a win.
It came down to the penultimate game of the night against country mates Freitas and world number 48 Joao Monteiro with Fretias looking to win the match and seal the tie in Dabang Smashers’ favour, while Monteiro aiming to take the tie to the last match. Monteiro started off well and attacked with equal power as Freitas took the first game 11-8. In the second, the intensity went a notch up as Freitas and Monteiro went neck and neck in the second game that culminated in a golden point win for the world number 14. Freitas managed to claim the third game 11-8 thus helping Smashers to their second victories in four ties.
In the final match, Korea’s Song, would number 19 got the better of Austria’s Jia, world number 22 11-6, 9-11, 11-10.
Source : timesofindia