Asian Table Tennis C’ships: Indian men assure bronze medal after entering semis

Indian men entered the semifinals of the Asian table tennis championships in Doha with a 3-1 win over Iran.

G. Sathiyan (in picture) and Sharath Kamal gave India a rousing start against Iran. Sharath eventually closed the tie with his second win. - G. RAMAKRISHNA (FILE)

Indian men entered the semifinals of the 25th-ITTF-ATTU Asian table tennis championships with a 3-1 win over Iran at the Lusain Sports Arena in Doha on Wednesday. India will meet Republic of Korea, which beat Hong Kong 3-1.

By reaching semis, India has assured itself a bronze medal in the championships-its first ever at this particular event.

After two of India's best players, Sharath Kamal and G. Sathiyan gave a rousing start defeating Nima Alamian and Noshad Alamiyan respectively, it was believed that Harmeet Desai, world-ranked 72 would close the match against a much-lower ranked (164) Amir Hossein Hodaei. It was not to be. Harmeet saved two match points to win the fourth game, but Amir went on to win the match 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 12-14, 11-7.

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The onus again fell on Sharath and India's flagbearer didn't disappoint as he overcame Noshad in four games, 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9 to help India enter the last four.

Women go down fighting

Later in the evening, Indian women went down fighting with all guns blazing to the top-seed Japan 3-1 in the quarterfinals of the Asian table tennis championships here on Thursday. The Indian players, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Archana Kamath, and Sreeja Akula played an uninhibited brand of table tennis, taking the top seed by surprise.

Japan took a 2-0 lead with Hitomi Sata, world-ranked 19, putting it across Sreeja Akula in the opening match, and Saki Shibata, ranked 42 in the world, warding off a stiff challenge from Archana Kamath in tough five games.

Sutirtha Mukherjee reduced the margin with an impressive win over Miyu Nagasaki in five games. But none expected Sreeja to put up such a fight against Shibata in the fourth match. Belying her world ranking of 140, Sreeja produced a wonderful performance against a player ranked 98 places above her. The Indian took the match to the fifth and deciding game before losing it 8-11. Certainly, this was a tie that India, certainly, wouldn't be upset losing.

  • Men : India bt Iran 3-1 (Sharath Kamal bt Nima Alamian 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5; G. Sathiyan bt Noshad Alamiyan 11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 1-6; Harmeet Desai lost to Amir Hossein Hodaei 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 14-12, 7-11; Sharath bt Noshad Alamiyan 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9).
  • Women : Japan bt India 3-1 (Hitomi Sato bt Sreeja Akula 11-5, 11-3, 11-3; Saki Shibata bt Archana Kamath 10-12, 11-7, 11-4, 10-12, 11-9; Miyu Nagasaki lost to Sutirtha Mukherjee 7-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 8-11; Saki Shibata bt Sreeja Akula 8-11, 10-12, 11-2, 11-9, 11-8).
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