Manika Batra and Manav Thakkar recorded higher-ranked rivals in UTT

Vastavam web: Indian stars Manika Batra and Manav Thakkar recorded thrilling victories over higher-ranked rivals, providing an exciting start to the Kolkata leg of CEAT Ultimate Table Tennis here tonight.Manika returned to her winning ways with a fighting 2-1 (7-11, 11-9, 11-10) victory over World No. 20 Lee Ho Ching to help Dabang Smashers gain an early lead against Empowerji Challengers.

But teen sensation Thakkar shocked World No. 27 Yoshida Masaki 2-1 (11-10, 5-11, 11-9) to help Challengers level the scores 3-3 after two matches.The 18-year-old Thakkar matched his Japanese opponent in long rallies to eke out an 11-10 win the first game. But Masaki bounced back in the second to win 11-5. In the third, Thakkar, ranked 216 places below Masaki, upped the ante and held his nerve to clinch the game (11-9) and match.