Continuing his blistering form, Sharath Kamal stopped A. Amalraj in six well-fought sets to win the men’s singles crown in the Petroleum inter-unit table tennis tournament at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex here on Friday.
Sharath, representing Indian Oil, showing signs of his brilliant best in his preparation to qualify in April for the Tokyo Olympics, scripted an impressive 11-7, 8-11, 14-12, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8 triumph in a much-anticipated clash of two former National champions.
Earlier, in a one-sided women’s final, former inter-Institutional champion Pooja Sahasrabudhe defeated fellow ONGC player and former National champion Ankita Das 11-4, 11-3, 11-8, 11-7.
As though to make amends for their poor showing in the recently-concluded National championship in Hyderabad, Sharath overpowered the newly-crowned National champion Harmeet Desai 11-6, 7-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-8, 11-5 in the semifinals and Amalraj halted National runner-up Manav Thakkar 15-13, 11-6, 11-13, 11-1, 5-11, 11-4 in the quarterfinals.
With top seed G. Sathiyan, troubled by back-pain, withdrawing from the quarterfinals, his much-awaited final clash with Sharath never came off.
Overall, Sharath’s quality of play and intensity on display made Indian Oil stop the juggernaut of ONGC in both team and singles final.
Indeed, the sharpness of his finishing strokes, on both flanks, was for everyone to notice.
Against Amalraj, Sharath started off well. He not only kept pace with his speedy rival but also produced strokes that left Amalraj and the spectators applauding the class of the nine-time National champion.
Amalraj, too, had his moments as he produced a series of powerful finishing drives, particularly from the forehand, and kept his senior opponent guessing with some stunning backhand blocks and counters.
With the players locked 1-1, the third set saw Sharath jump to a 10-7 lead. Undeterred, Amalraj drew level but could not move ahead. Eventually, Sharath converted his sixth set-point.
Amalraj, after surrendering the fourth set, led through the fifth until Sharath made it 9-9. But Amalraj kept his cool and won two quick points to force the sixth set.
In what turned out to be the final set, Sharath gave very little away and asserted his supremacy to convert his second championship-point.
The results (final):
Men: Sharath Kamal (Indian Oil) bt A. Amalraj (ONGC) 11-7, 8-11, 14-12, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8.
Women: Pooja Sahasrabudhe (ONGC) bt Ankita Das (ONGC) 11-4, 11-3, 11-8, 11-7.