Table Tennis

Indian men’s team clear first hurdle at ITTF Olympics qualifiers

The team was pushed hard by Luxembourg at times but Achanta Sharath Kamal, Harmeet Desai and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran were up to the task.

By Rahul Venkat ·

The Indian men’s won their team event, 3-0 against Luxembourg in the round of 32 tie at the ITTF World Team Qualification tournament at Gondobar in Portugal on Wednesday.

The tie, which consisted of four singles matches and one doubles, saw the Indian side work hard and earn their wins after being given a bye in the round of 64.

Achanta Sharath Kamal and Harmeet Desai doubled up to win the first match, 11-9, 16-14, 11-6 against Gilles Michely and Eric Glod. The teams exchanged points multiple times in the first game but the Indian duo managed a two-point lead at the end.

They had to work much harder in the second game though. Gilles Michely and Eric Glod went toe-to-toe with Achanta Sharath Kamal and Harmeet Desai, never allowing them to build any sort of momentum and they even took the lead a couple of times in the process.

However, the Indian pair finally won two points in a row after the score tied at 14-14 to take a 2-0 lead in the match. The third game was a much simpler affair, as Achanta Sharath Kamal and Harmeet Desai won easily.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran comes back from the dead

The first singles encounter of the night was a thrilling affair as Sathiyan Gnanasekaran tapped into the reserves of his mental and physical strength to win 8-11, 9-11, 11-3, 13-11, 11-6 against Luka Mladenovic.

The Indian paddler seemed down and out after losing the first two games closely but refused to give up. He dominated the third game and won it by an eight-point margin to give himself a chance.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran did not have it that easy in the next game though as his opponent recovered in time to mount a challenge. They traded points throughout before the Indian won his second game at 13-11.

His comeback was complete just a few moments later when he won the deciding game 11-6 as the drained out Luka Mladenovic could not keep up with him.

Achanta Sharath Kamal seals the win

Veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal ensured that his tie did not have to go into the final two matches as he won his singles encounter against Eric Glod, 11-3, 11-3, 12-14, 11-5.

The pair, facing off for the second time in the day, were unevenly matched as the Indian ran away with the first two games. However, the Luxembourg lad fought hard in the third game, going into a 3-0 lead which became 8-6 and 10-10 at one point.

Eric Glod’s persistence paid off as he won his first game of the night but was outplayed yet again by Achanta Sharath Kamal in the next one to concede the game, match and tie to India.

India will next face the winner between Slovenia and Iran in the quarter-finals. A victory in that tie will confirm India’s participation in the team event at Tokyo 2020.