The Indian men’s and women’s teams put up a dominant show on the opening day of the 2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Championships in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to complete a clean sweep against their respective opponents.
While the men’s team was clubbed with Kuwait and Sri Lanka, the women’s contingent locked horns with Lebanon and dark horses Jordan in the group stage of the first division.
Kuwait, Lanka struggle
Taking on Kuwait in their first tie of the group stage, the Indians relied on experience and form as Achanta Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Harmeet Desai helped the side begin with a comfortable 3-0 win.
While Kamal blanked Alrashidi Marzooq 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 in the first match of the tie, Gnanasekaran beat Ibrahem Al-Hasan 11-9, 11-8, 12-10 in a close encounter. Later, Desai wrapped up the tie with a commanding 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 win over Jaber Al-Balhan.
The second tie against their sub-continental neighbours, Sri Lanka, saw India name Manav Vikash Thakkar and the veteran Anthony Amalraj in place of Gnanasekaran and Desai.
But the change in team composition barely made a difference as they romped home to a fine victory to move into the knock-outs of the first division.
Against the Lankans, it was Thakkar who kicked off proceedings for India. Up against Supuna Warusawithana, the Indian was in his element as he dished out a commanding show to register an 11-3, 11-7, 11-8 win to give India the lead.
While Sharath Kamal made it 2-0 with an 11-7, 11-6, 11-3 win over Ginige Chameera, Amalraj completed the formalities with an 11-4, 13-11, 11-3 win over Senura Silva in the third.
On Monday, the men’s team will take on Saudi Arabia in the quarterfinals of Division I with either Thailand or Uzbekistan being their potential semifinal opponent. If the Indians are to win the two ties, they will qualify for the Last-8 stage of the Champions Division.
Easy start for India women
While a couple of men’s games went into the tiebreaker, the Indian women hardly broke a sweat against Jordan. It all started with Madhurika Patkar getting the better of Bara Al-Wedian in the opening tie 11-4, 11-7, 11-2.
Manika Batra with an astounding 11-4, 11-6, 11-8 win over Taimma Abo-Yaman continued her domination, while Ayhika Mukherjee added the icing on the cake with an 11-0, 11-4, 11-0 win over Yara Aldmaisy.
While continuing the momentum, Patkar had a hard time while facing Lebanon’s Mariana Sahakian as the game stretched to four sets.
Batra, however, had no such trouble as an 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 win over Malak Khory all but confirmed India’s place in the next round.
Suthirtha Mukherjee eventually completed the formality by beating Noel Kechichian 11-6, 11-4, 11-9 in the final tie.
Batra and Co. will lock horns with Uzbekistan on Monday, and the winner will face Thailand next.