The Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) women, following the footpath of Haryana, made their unceremonious exit in the quarterfinals of the 83rd Senior National and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships at the SAI Indoor Stadium here today.
But was more shocking was the elimination of runners-up Delhi and bronze medallist Telangana in the men’s team events, paving the way for RSPB and Maharashtra A to enter the medal rounds. Maharashtra A’s first thrashed Delhi 3-0, and the Railmen steamrolled Telangana 3-2 in a thrilling quarterfinal.
Both the men’s and women’s Petroleum teams entered the finals, beating the Railways and Bengal A, respectively, with similar verdicts of 3-0. In the other two semifinals, Maharashtra A women defeated Tamil Nadu Table Tennis Association 3-0 and their men beat Bengal A 3-2 in what turned out to be an edge-of-the-seat encounter.
Diya Chitale, Swastika Ghosh and Anannya Basak led their team into the final, as did Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), downing runners-up Bengal A with an identical margin.
However, Diya Chitale’s best form and the spirited fightback alone put Maharashtra into the semifinal. Trailing 0-2 in the crucial fourth rubber against Sutirtha Mukherjee—Railways led 2-1—Diya launched herself to play some excellent game, shifting the pressure back on Sutirtha and her team. She not only levelled the score in the tie but went on to restore parity in the team score. Then it was left to Swastika to provide them with the impetus to see them through in the decider.