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North Bengal in last four

Amitabha Das Sharma

KOLKATA: North Bengal women warded off a spirited challenge from Air India to move into the semifinals of the Keventer 72nd senior National and inter-State table tennis tournament at the Netaji Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday.

Making it one of the closest matches in the women's quarterfinals, young Ankita Das won the deciding rubber to help North Bengal register a 3-2 win and book a semifinal duel against defending champion Petroleum.

Host West Bengal encountered a similar situation before getting past a dogged Andhra Pradesh 3-2 in the deciding rubber after the latter levelled the tie 2-2 by winning the fourth tie. Petroleum and Maharashtra ‘A', the top seeds, had no problem in moving into the last four stage as they blanked their opponents Delhi and Jharkhand 3-0. West Bengal will take on Maharashtra ‘A' in the second women's semifinal.

The men's category, too, saw the traditionally stronger sides hold sway against comparatively mediocre opponents. Petroleum proved too good for Gujarat while Maharashtra ‘A' breezed to a 3-0 verdict against Andhra Pradesh.

TN in semifinals

A resurgent Tamil Nadu gained from the fine form of R. Abhishek to stop the giant-killing run of Rajasthan 3-1.

Abhishek, known for his defensive style, beat both the Rajasthan players — Devesh Karia and Jubin Kumar — to book a semifinal berth after a long break. After T. Nitin lost the second match against Jubin, R.S. Raja won the third tie against Rajasthan's Pankaj to put Tamil Nadu 2-1 up.

The West Bengal men caused a flutter by beating the strong Railways 3-1. The Bengal team of Sourav Saha, Souvik Kar and Anirban Nandy beat the Railways combination of Sayan Paul Roy, Harmeet Desai and Souvik Basu Roy to reach the semifinals for the second successive year.

In the semifinals on Wednesday, Petroleum will take on Tamil Nadu while Maharashtra ‘A' will meet West Bengal.

The results: Men: Quarterfinals: Petroleum bt Gujarat 3-0; Tamil Nadu bt Rajasthan 3-1; West Bengal bt Railways 3-1; Maharashtra-A bt Haryana 3-0. Pre-quarterfinals: Petroleum bt Karnataka 3-0; Gujarat bt Madhya Pradesh 3-0; Tamil Nadu bt Uttar Pradesh 3-0; Rajasthan bt Chhattisgarh 3-1; West Bengal bt Maharashtra ‘B' 3-0; Railways bt Assam 3-0; Haryana bt North Bengal 3-2; Maharashtra ‘A' bt Andhra Pradesh 3-0.

Women: Quarterfinals: Petroleum bt Delhi 3-0; North Bengal bt Air India 3-2; West Bengal bt Andhra Pradesh 3-2; Maharashtra ‘A' bt Jharkhand 3-0.

Pre-quarterfinals: Petroleum bt Madhya Pradesh 3-0; Delhi bt Maharashtra ‘B' 3-0; Air India bt Assam 3-1; North Bengal bt Gujarat 3-0; West Bengal bt Kerala 3-0; Andhra Pradesh bt Chhattisgarh 3-0; Jharkhand bt Tamil Nadu 3-2; Maharashtra ‘A' bt Karnataka 3-0 .

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