Mavericks edge out Maharashtra in UTT thriller
Pune, June 17: Ayhika Mukherjee's giant-killing ways stood out as RP-SG Mavericks thwarted a gallant charge from Maharashtra United and eked out a narrow 11-10 victory in their Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) clash at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here on Sunday.
After Ayhika, Kou Lei and the mixed pair of captain Harmeet Desai and Doo Hoi Kem had won the first three matches to put Mavericks in a commanding 6-3 position, Maharashtra staged a brilliant rally through their foreign players to turn the tables and gain a 10-8 lead.
Kristian Karlsson, Elizabeta Samara and captain Joao Monteiro won their respective singles to ensure three victories in succession for Maharashtra. Romanian Samara's shock 11-5, 11-10, 11-8 victory over World No.13 Doo Hoi Kem was central to their turnaround.
However, German Sabine Winter tilted the scales in favour of the Mavericks by winning the last match of the day against Madhurika Patkar 11-7, 11-9, 11-10.
It was the most exciting tie of the tournament so far with nine golden points deciding the winners in nine games. Incidentally, the last point of the tie was decided by a golden point with Sabine's smashing return clinching the issue.
Ayhika stunned World No.56 Lily Zhang 10-11, 11-5, 11-10. After losing the first game on a golden point, the Indian hustled her American rival with her serve to clinch the second game with ease.
However, in the third, Zhang fought back to lead 6-4 only to find the Indian take the contest to the golden point and seal the match.
Ukranian Kou Lie quelled Anthony Amalraj's challenge 10-11, 11-10, 11-5 for Mavericks' second win and swelled their lead to 4-2 on points after the first two singles.
Kristian Karlsson began the turnaround for Maharashtra by defeating fellow Swede Kristian Karlsson 11-9, 11-6, 10-11 before Samara stepped up to upset Doo.
In a tussle between captains, Mavericks' Desai was edged out by Monteiro in a cliff-hanger 11-10, 9-11, 10-11 before Sabine ensured Mavericks' victory.