The Indian men’s team, comprising Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai, settled for the bronze medal in their event at the Asian Table Tennis Championships 2021 in Doha, Qatar on Friday after a 3-0 loss to top seeds South Korea in the semi-finals.
India were already assured a medal in the event since both losing semi-finalists get bronze. They beat Iran in the quarter-finals.
Despite the unflattering scoreline against the South Koreans in the top four, the Indian trio went down fighting and two of the three matches could very well have swung the other way.
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran went up first against world No. 12 Woojin Jang and lost his match 3-1 (11-5, 10-12, 11-8, 11-5).
Up against world No. 22 Lee Sangsu, four-time Olympian Achanta Sharath Kamal began stronger but eventually squandered a 2-1 lead to lose the closely-fought match 3-2 (11-7, 13-15, 11-8, 6-11, 9-11).
Harmeet Desai, too, was on the receiving end of a similar scoreline against Seungmin Cho. Despite losing the first game, Harmeet Desai won the next two to take the lead but Cho eventually persevered. Harmeet lost the nail-biter 4-11, 11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 11-13.
Indian women’s team finish fifth
The Indian women’s team of Sutirtha Mukherjee, Archana Girish Kamath and Sreeja Akula, meanwhile, secured a fifth-place finish with a 3-1 win over Thailand in the playoff.
In the opener, Archana Girish Kamath pushed Thailand’s top player Suthsani Sawettabut hard but eventually lost 3-2 (7-11, 11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 9-11).
Tokyo Olympian Sutirtha Mukherjee, however, levelled the score with a comfortable 3-0 (11-5, 11-5, 11-6) win over teenager Phantita Pinyopisan.
Sreeja Akula then put India in the lead with a 3-0 (11-7, 11-6, 11-2) win over Wirakarn Tayapitak before Sutirtha Mukherjee wrapped up the affair, beating Suthsani Sawettabut 3-1 (11-7, 11-6, 10-12, 11-7) in the reverse singles match.
Sutirtha Mukherjee was also in action in women’s singles on the day. The Indian had no trouble progressing in the event after beating Qatar’s Ali Moha 3-0 (11-4, 11-3, 11-4) in the round of 128. She will face Mongolia’s Bolor-Erdene Batmukh in the round of 64.
Manav Thakkar and Archana Kamath exit mixed doubles in quarter-finals
In mixed doubles, Manav Thakkar and Archana Kamath fell a win short of assuring India their second medal in the event.
Manav Thakkar-Archana Kamath narrowly beat the Kazakhstan pair of Anastassiya Lavrova and Kirill Gerassimenko 3-2 (11-4, 11-13, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4) in the round of 16 before falling to Hong Kong’s Lee Ho Ching and Ho Kwan-kit 3-1 (8-11, 4-11, 11-9, 3-11) in the quarter-finals.
Making the semi-finals would have guaranteed at least bronze.