Thiruvananthapuram: With G. Sathiyan and Manush Shah, the two top-ranked players not competing here, the third on the national ranking chart and the top-ranked Indian in the world, Harmeet Desai, will get the top billing in men singles of the second UTT National Ranking Championships, underway at the Jimmy George Indoor Stadium here from today.
Though Manav Thakkar and A. Sharath Kamal will follow Harmeet in the seeding list, all three will be seen in action from tomorrow when the main draw begins.
Meanwhile, in the two rounds of their qualification matches today, P.B. Abhinand of Tamil Nadu captured the top slot in Group 1, beating his rivals from Delhi, Aadarsh Om Chhetri, 14-12, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5 in a tough match and then subdued Kerala’s A.S. Amal 11-9, 11-3, 11-2 to book his berth in the second stage of the draw.
After overcoming the early resistance from the Delhi lad, Abhinand dominated the second. However, Aadarsh recovered in the third to win. But Abhinand pressed on the pedal in the next and finished with a lot to spare.
However, in other groups, top-ranked players inched closer to securing their qualification positions with a win each. Before the clear picture emerges, they will compete in the last round this evening.
In Group 3, Ranjith Benny played a brilliant tie against Vishesh Rastogi of Madhya Pradesh and won 3-2 (11-8, 12-14, 6-11, 11-6, 11-4), which put him at par with former National Junior champion Siddesh Pande of Maharashtra, who thrashed Rastogi 11-3, 11-1, 11-5. The winner of the match between Pandey and Benny later this evening will throw up the group qualifier.
In other groups, well-known players like Anukram Jain of RSPB, Ali Mohammed of Telangana and Surajit Das of Bengal struggled before outwitting their rivals to keep their qualification chances intact. Anukram beat Anshuman Hazarika of Assam 11-4, 11-5, 11-13, 12-10, while Karnataka’s Harish Kusel stretched the Telangana man full in their Group 13 clash. But Ali, down 0-2, staged a nice comeback to win 9-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5. Surajit faced at tough challenge from another Karnataka lad, Abhinav K. Murthy, but picked up the gauntlet to win 3-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-4, 14-12.
In the women’s singles, the group participants have played their first-round matches, but they will complete two more rounds today for the group qualifiers to emerge. Along with the main draw of men’s and women’s singles, the mixed doubles knockout matches will begin tomorrow.