Sathiyan, Manika play seminal roles as Dabang Smashers pip Falcons TTC to clinch maiden CEAT UTT title


The Dabang Smashers continued their impeccable form that helped them storm through this tournament to hand Falcons TTC a humiliating defeat in the finals of the CEAT UTT Championship, that took place on July 1 in Kolkata. A packed stadium saw both these top teams lock horns and one team dominate the other by a margin of four points, as the Smashers won 11-7.


While the victory was a team effort, there were two clear stars who dazzled absolutely everyone with their skills. One of them was the captain of the Smashers, world no. 44 and the top players of this CEAT UTT Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, who led from the front and defeated any opposition that came his way. The highlight of his evening was the match against Spain’s Alvaro Robles, which he won 2-1 to give the Smashers an epic lead of 7-2. In their first match, Sathiyan showed his mettle, leading by 5-0 and winning. He faltered in the second match, won by Robles, but finally managed to hand the Spaniard a handsome defeat.


The other star was none other than Manika Batra, who has emerged as a serious table tennis talent for our nation, in the Commonwealth games as well as last year’s CEAT UTT. Only 23 years old, she too was infected by the victorious spirit and gave world no. 30 Matilda Ekholm no breathing space as she destroyed her 3-0. The Commonwealth double gold medalist even won the Indian player of the league award for her almost faultless performance at this tournament, having lost just 2 of her seven matches.


The Japanese player Yoshida Masaki, who is current world no. 27 helped the Smashers extend their lead in an exciting match against the young Indian talent Sanil Shetty. After showcasing great control of the ball and defeating Shetty for the first two matches, the resurgent Indian came back and won the last match, slowly chipping away at the massive lead that the Smashers had set up, potentially giving this CEAT UTT final a twist.


But it proved to be inadequate as the Smashers kept increasing their lead bit by bit, by beating the Falcons even in the mixed doubles round. The final match-up of this CEAT UTT was fittingly won by their skipper Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, dispelling all hopes of the defending champions to continue their glory.

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