Gujarat Men defeated much fancied Haryana counterparts to make sure they don’t return empty handed from the ongoing UTT 81st National Table Tennis Championships at the Saroonagar Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad on Wednesday. In a thrilling quarterfinals rubber of the Men’s team event, Gujarat registered 3-1 win, where warhorse Jignesh Jayswal relived his younger days.
Last year, Gujarat went down to PSPB in the final to settle for silver. Gujarat didn’t have the best of the start. Two-time Olympian Soumyajit Ghosh beat young Ishaan Hingorani 3-0 in the first match. Pendulum tilted in Gujarat’s favour when left-handed Manush Shah accounted for Jeet Chandra. After losing the first game, Manush fought back to take next three games and match 9-11 11-1 11-8 11-7.
In the third singles, veteran Jignesh Jayswal replayed the game of his heydays. Pitted against India’s international Zubin Kumar, Jayswal up his ante to win first two games before the former made a comeback to push the match in the decider. Zubin after trailing 1-5 did make a comeback in the deciding game but Jayswal ensured he had the last laugh with some extraordinary display of patience, backhand and forehand winners.
“It was a tough match. A thriller. After long time I was involved in such a tense encounter. I had nothing to lose, as Zubin is a young and international player. It was all about handling the pressure. I used my experience,” said Jignesh as he recalled 11-7 12-10 6-11 9-11 11-8.
Fourth match was important for Haryana to stay alive. Experienced campaigner Ghosh faced young and dynamic Manush. Ghosh won the first game and looked dangerous before Manush changed gears. With some terrific movements and placements, Manush defeated Ghosh 7-11 11-8 11-8 11-6 to put Gujarat in the semis, a place where medal is assured.
With medal assured, coach Chintan Oza radiated his confidence in team. “Haryana was among the favourites to play final. But we have halted them, reflects potential of our team. Jignesh bhai winning Zubin was crucial. I am confident team will play final as well,” said Oza, before the team commenced its preparations for the semis against Delhi.
Earlier, in the Pre-quarterfinal, Gujarat beat Tamil Nadu by same score 3-1. In the group stage, Gujarat beat Maharashtra B 3-1 and Odisha 3-0 and advanced to the knockouts as Group toppers.
Gujarat beat Haryana 3-1
Ishaan Hingorani lost to Soumyajit Ghosh 3-11 5-11 4-11
Manush Shah bt Jeet Chandra 9-11 11-1 11-8 11-7
Jignesh Jayswal bt Zubin Kumar 11-7 12-10 6-11 9-11 11-8
Manush Shah bt Soumyajit Ghosh 7-11 11-8 11-8 11-6