Commonwealth Games 2022 table tennis: Manika Batra, G Sathiyan set India off on winning track

The Indian men’s team will face Northern Ireland while the women’s team will take on Guyana in their final group match on Saturday.

By Ali Asgar Nalwala
Picture by Getty Images

Defending champions India set the tone in both the men’s and women’s table tennis events by dominating their opponents in the opening matches of the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham, UK on Friday.

The Indian women’s table tennis team was the first to take the court at the National Exhibition Centre against South Africa.

National champion Sreeja Akula combined with Reeth Rishya to beat Lailaa Edwards and Danisha Patel 3-0 (11-7, 11-7, 11-5) in the opening match.

India’s ace table tennis player Manika Batra, ranked 41st in singles, then outplayed Musfique Kalam 3-0 (11-5, 11-3, 11-2) in her singles match to help India take the 2-0 lead in the five-match tie.

With India needing just one win to seal the tie, Sreeja Akula produced a clinical performance to beat Danisha Patel 3-0 (11-5, 11-3, 11-6).

Overall, 16 teams, divided into four groups, are competing in each of the men’s and women’s events.

The Indian women’s table tennis team, placed in Group 2, played their second match against Fiji later in the day and produced an identical 3-0 win.

Against Fiji, 19-year-old Diya Chitala replaced Reeth Rishya to partner Sreeja Akula. The duo dominated Touea Titana and Grace Rosi Yee of Fiji to win the opening match 3-0 (11-8, 11-3, 11-5).

Manika Batra then beat Carolyn Li 3-0 (11-2, 11-4, 11-2) followed by Sreeja Akula’s 3-0 (11-7, 11-1, 11-2) win over Grace Rosi Yee. The Indian women’s team will play Guyana in their final group match on Saturday.

The Indian men’s table tennis team started their campaign against Barbados in a similar fashion.

Harmeet Desai and Gnanasekaran Sathiyan faced a stiff challenge from Kevin Farley and Tyrese Knight in the first two games but showed technical superiority in the third game to maintain a clean slate. The Indian pair won the match 3-0 (11-9, 11-9, 11-4) to give India an early breakthrough.

Sharath Kamal, playing in his fifth Commonwealth Games, came in next and won his singles match 3-0 (11-5, 11-3, 11-3) against Ramon Maxwell.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, India’s top-ranked singles player, then won the tie against Tyrese Knight 3-0 (11-4, 11-5, 11-5) to register a convincing win for India.

The Indian men’s team, in Group 3, fielded an unchanged line-up for their second tie against Singapore later in the day to register another 3-0 win. Sharath Kamal and Co. will take on Northern Ireland in their final group match on Saturday.

The top two teams from each group qualify for the quarter-finals. With India winning both their ties without dropping a match, they are expected to make the cut for the knockouts with ease.

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