The Indian table tennis team beat Iran 3-1 to enter the semi-finals of the men’s team event at the Asian Table Tennis Championships 2021 in Doha, Qatar on Wednesday.
The win also guaranteed India its maiden medal at the Asian showpiece. Both losing semi-finalists get bronze medals.
Veteran Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran pulled off victories over Iran in the quarter-finals, while Harmeet Desai lost India’s only match of the tie.
Four-time Olympian Sharath Kamal started things off by beating Iran’s Nima Alamian 3-1 (11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5) in the first match of the tie.
G Sathiyan then defeated Noshad Alamiyan 3-1 (11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 11-6) to give the Indian team a 2-0 lead.
In the third match, Harmeet Desai lost 3-2 to (8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 14-12, 7-11) to Amir Hossein Hodaei, giving Iran their only win of the tie.
Sharath Kamal then wrapped up the tie with a 3-1 (11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9) win over Noshad Alamiyan.
The Indian men’s team will either face Hong Kong or South Korea in the semi-finals on Friday.
The men’s team finished fifth in the 2019 edition and are already on course to better that record. With China opting out of the 2021 Asian Table Tennis Championships, India’s chances have been slightly enhanced.
Women’s team make champions division
Meanwhile, the Indian team were promoted to the champions division from the 1st division of the women’s team event.
Finalists in the 1st division progress to the champions division, where they compete with six other teams for the title, starting with the quarter-finals.
The women’s team topped Group 1 after wins over Jordan and Nepal and progressed to the semi-finals of the 1st division, where they beat Uzbekistan 3-0.
India’s Archana Kamath beat Markhabo Magdieva 3-0 (11-2, 11-5, 11-4) in the first match.
Sutirtha Mukherjee then beat Rozalina Khadjieva 3-0 (11-6, 11-7, 11-3) and Ayhika Mukherjee got the better of Sugdiyona Madalieva 3-1 (11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 11-7) to seal promotion to the champions division.
The Indian women’s team, however, lost to Japan 3-1 in the quarter-finals. Sutirtha Mukherjee's five game victory over Miyu Nagasaki turned out to be India's only high in the tie.
The Indian women next face Chinese Taipei for the best-possible finish in the 5-8 bracket,