World team table tennis c’ships: India men edge out Kazakhstan to enter Round of 16

Wins from Achanta Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai ensured that India stayed alive in the tournament. The men in blue will face South Korea later in the day.

Published : Feb 21, 2024 13:14 IST - 2 MINS READ

FILE: India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta in action.
FILE: India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta in action. | Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images

FILE: India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta in action. | Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images

Indian men huffed and puffed to a 3-2 victory over Kazakhstan to advance to the round of 16 in the World team table tennis championships in Busan on Wednesday.

India will meet Korea, seeded third, in the pre-quarterfinal at 4.30 p.m. IST today.

Harmeet Desai clinched the fifth and final rubber with a magnificent 3-1 victory over Kirill Gerassimenko, the country’s highest ranked paddler at 40.

It wasn’t an easy tie in any manner given the fact that Kazakhstan was seeded 29 to India’s 17. The Kazakh paddlers proved beyond doubt that world rankings are just plain numbers and in a team event, upsets are always around the corner. Barring Kirill, the rest of the players are ranked outside 200, which showed the fighting spirit of the Kazakhs.

After Kirill put it across Harmeet, India’s No.1, in five games in the first rubber, Sharath looked down and out losing the first two games in the second tie. But he fought back like a true champion winning the remaining three games. This was truly his best match of the Worlds, wherein he gave a glimpse of Sharath of yore.

Sathiyan, too, produced his A game as he worked his way to a fantastic win over Aidos Kenzhigulov. The 31-year-old Indian’s defence and counter-punching skills shone through in the match. With a 2-1 lead, India was in the driver’s seat.

Sharath took on Kirill in the fourth rubber. The 10-time Indian National champion went back to old ways, making numerous mistakes in return of serve and forehand top spin shots. Kirill emerged a deserving winner in four games.

Harmeet’s game has been largely impressive in the Championships. His consistency from the back of the table, his receives and mental toughness have been above par. He showed why he is India’s no1.1 paddler with a 3-1 win over Kirill in the deciding tie.

The results (round of 32):

India bt Kazakhstan 3-2 (Harmeet Desai lost to Kirill Gerassimenko 11-9, 10-12, 8-11, 11-7, 8-11; Sharath Kamal bt Alan Kurmangaliyev 6-11, 7-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-9; Sathiyan bt Aidos Kenzhigulov 11-6, 5-11, 11-2, 11-7; Sharath lost to Kirill 4-11, 9-11, 11-6, 7-11; Harmeet bt Kirill 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7).

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