Asiad 2018: Indian paddlers assure historic medal

The Indian men’s team did the unthinkable by beating fancied Japan 3-1 in the quarterfinals to assure the country its first-ever Asian Games table tennis medal.

Indian men team members in a celebratory mood at JI Expo Hall B after winning against Japan 3-1.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Indian men’s team did the unthinkable by beating fancied Japan 3-1 in the quarterfinals to assure the country its first-ever Asian Games table tennis medal on Monday.

“At the end of the day, it is an Asian Games medal. I never dreamt of it,” veteran Sharath Kamal said.

Until Monday night, India did not have a single medal in the sport which was introduced in the Games in 1958. The likes of China (61 gold), Japan (20) and South Korea (10) swept the medals for long time.

Word number 33, Sharath, blanked world number 19 Kenta Matsudaira 11-8, 12-10, 11-8.

Rising star G. Sathiyan won both his singles against 28th ranked Jin Ueda and Matsudaira. Sathiyan hammered Ueda in straight games and took four games to get the better of Matsudaira.

“We had come close to beating Japan in the Asian Championships last year. So it is not as if it was completely unexpected. We were on the right track. We have a solid team now,” said multiple time CWG gold medallist Sharath.

Women's team falters

Earlier, in the women’s team event, India lost to Hong Kong 1-3 in the quarterfinals.

Manika Batra stunned world number 20 Lee Ho Ching in the opening singles. The 57th ranked Indian beat Ching 11-9, 11-9, 5-11, 11-6. However, her teammates could not come up with special performances. Ayhika Mukherji stretched world number 13 Doo Hoi Kem before going down 14-12, 4-11, 10-12, 8-11 in the second singles.

Mouma Das too took Soo Wai Yam Minnie the full distance but lost 6-11, 13-11, 11-8, 3-11, 5-11.

Doo and Manika played the fourth rubber but the Hong Kong player was too good for India’s best female paddler, winning 11-8, 11-8, 13-11 to seal the tie for her side.