ttHyderabad: Seven out of eight group toppers in the men’s section and six in women’s category have moved into the team events pre-quarterfinals of the 77th Senior National and Inter-State Table Tennis Championships at the Kotla Vijay Bhaskara Reddy Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday.

The men’s teams that have moved into the second stage knockout phase include Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB), West Bengal, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) while a good battle is brewing between Delhi and Maharashtra A in group G for the top slot. A clear picture will emerge only after the third round matches get over tonight. But one expects both Delhi and Maharashtra A to enter the knockout stage.

As for the women’s affair, PSPB, West Bengal, Maharashtra A, Reserve Bank of India, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have moved into the last 16 stages and await another team from group E as its leader and other second-placed teams from each group.

However, one cannot rule out the possibility of a three-way tie in group H where Tamil Nadu, Kerala and North Bengal are pitted against one another, having one-win-one-loss equations. 

In what was a minor ripple caused in Group E, Maharashtra B team defeated Delhi 3-0 in the first round and could emerge as the No. 1 team from the group. But it may not prevent Delhi women from entering the pre-quarters as the second team as they are expected to beat a weak Tripura and qualify.

But there was something to cheer for the hosts as their women’s squad, comprising Nikhat Banu, Varuni Jaiswal and Sreeja Akula, made every one sit up and watch them book their pre-quartrfinal berth. But their men’s squad, which lost their match to West Bengal 0-3, faces Uttarakhand next in a three-team group—Pondicherry has pulled out at the last minute—and the hosts must win to qualify. In other words, if Uttarakhand manage to beat Telangana, the former would walk in. That is a real tricky situation for the hosts’ team.

On the other hand, Telangana’s women’s team did not stretch it too far. Posting their first authoritative 3-0 win over Uttar Pradesh, they took on a problematic Gujajrat in the second round of the group match.

Varuni did not provide a good start when she went down to Guajrat’s No. 1 player Frenaz Chipia 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 5-11, but the experienced Nikhat Banu, who got a recent Chennai posting as IT inspector, restored Telangana’s pride to level the score with a 8-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9 triumph over Gohil Divyaba.

Then it was left to Sreeja Akula, the highly-talented junior girl, to take it on from there to give the hosts a head start as they went 2-0 up. Sreeja beat Nirja Trivedi in a thrilling see-saw rubber 13-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-13, 11-8. Nikhat, playing her reverse singles, again saw to it that Telangana had a hassle-free pre-quarterfinal entry. She beat Frenaz in straight games of 11-7, 11-9, 11-3.

Earlier in a first round battle in group H, Kerala upset Tamil Nadu 3-2 despite the latter having a bundle of experience in Reeth Rishya, Amrutha Pushpak and Vidhya. But the Tamil Nadu women evened the loss out with a shock 3-0 win over North Bengal. If the NB women beat Kerala, the matter will be sealed for the latter as both Tamil Nadu and North Bengal will qualify from the group.

Brief Results:

Men’s Team (1st Stage):

Group – A: PSPB bt Odisha 3-0, Maharashtra-B  bt  Jammu & Kashmir 3-0; PSPB bt Maharashtra-B 3-0, Odisha bt Jammu & Kashmir 3-0.

Group – B: West Bengal bt Uttarakhand 3-0, West Bengal bt Telangana 3-0.

Group – C: Gujarat bt Chhattisgarh 3-0, North Bengal bt Goa 3-0; Gujarat bt North Bengal 3-0, Chhattisgarh bt Goa 3-2.

Group – D: Haryana bt Uttar Pradesh 3-0, Kerala bt Meghalaya 3-0; Haryana bt Kerala 3-0, Uttar Pradesh bt Meghalaya 3-0.

Group – E: Tamil Nadu bt Andhra Pradesh 3-0, Himachal Pradesh bt Jharkhand 3-1; Tamil Nadu bt Himachal Pradesh 3-0, Andhra Pradesh bt Jharkhand 3-1.

Group – F: Rajasthan bt Mizoram 3-0, Karnataka bt Tripura 3-0; Mizoram bt Tripura 3-0, Rajasthan bt Karnataka 3-0.

Group – G: Delhi bt Chandigarh 3-0, Chandigarh bt Bihar 3-0, Maharashtra-A bt Delhi 3-0.

Group – H: RSPB bt Madhya Pradesh 3-0, Assam Bt Punjab 3-2; RSPB bt Assam 3-1, Punjab bt Madhya Pradesh 3-1.

Women’s Team (1st Stage):

Group – A: PSPB bt Jharkhand 3-0, PSPB bt Pondicherry 3-0.

Group – B: West Bengal bt Bihar 3-0, West Bengal bt Odisha 3-0.

Group – C: Maharashtra-A bt Madhya Pradesh 3-1, Assam bt Meghallaya 3-0; Maharashtra-B bt Assam 3-0, Madhya Pradesh bt Meghalaya 3-0. 

Group – D: RBI bt Rajasthan 3-1, Haryana bt Goa 3-0, RBI bt Haryana 3-0, Rajasthan bt Goa 3-0.

Group – E: Maharashtra-B bt Tripura 3-0, Delhi bt Punjab 3-0; Maharashtra-B bt Delhi 3-1, Punjab bt Tripura 3-0.

Group – F: Telangana bt Uttar Pradesh 3-0, Gujarat bt Himachal Pradesh 3-0; Telangana bt Gujarat 3-1, Uttar Pradesh bt Himachal Pradesh 3-0.

Group – G: Karnataka bt Chandigarh 3-0, Andhra Pradesh bt Uttarakhand 3-0; Karnataka bt Andhra Pradesh 3-0, Chandigarh bt Uttarakhand 3-0.

Group – H: North Bengal bt Chattisgarh 3-0, Kerala bt Tamil Nadu 3-2; Tamil Nadu bt North Bengal 3-0, Kerala bt Chhattisgarh 3-0.

 (Note: Since the knockout draw is scheduled later this evening after third round matches in both sections, please expect an update).