Following a satisfactory outing at the 24th ITTF Asian Table Tennis Championships in the team events - that saw the men finish fifth for the first time - Indian paddlers got into their groove to register impressive victories in the singles category on Thursday.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manika Batra was amongst those to triumph, as no less than 13 Indian players ended up on the winning side in the singles' competitions.
However, they failed to replicate similar form in the doubles category.
Women set the tone
Archana Kamath set the tone for the contingent by beating Kheith Rhynne Cruz of Philippines 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 in just 16 minutes.
Later, Manika Batra took the stage and continued India’s dominance by beating Malaysia’s Ai Xin Tee 11-8, 11-9, 11-8.
Her next singles match will be against Japan's Kasumi Ishikawa in the last 32 on Friday.
Sutirtha Mukherjee rounded things off by getting the better of Nepal’s Sikka Suwal 11-4, 11-3, 11-6.
Men on the march
In a match that lasted 27 minutes, Harmeet Desai defeated Thailand’s Panagitgun Yanapong 11-9, 6-11, 11-5, 11-5. The opening game remained a competitive encounter, with the Indian winning as many as seven points on his opponent’s serve to put the Thai under pressure.
Though Yanapong came back strong to take the second game 11-6, that was the best he could muster as Desai cruised ahead to bag the final two games and win the tie.
Newcomer Manav Thakkar, coming on the back of his fourth career ITTF World Junior Circuit Boys’ Singles title in November 2018, got off to an excellent start against his Kuwaiti opponent, Marzooq Alrashidi. The Indian won the tie 11-7, 11-6, 11-5.
Meanwhile, veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal, too, hardly broke a sweat during his opening round tie as he defeated Afghanistan’s Mohammad Hosseini 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 in just 13 minutes. The mastery of the 37-year-old was no match for the Afghani, who gave away a whopping eight consecutive points in the first game. The rout further continued as it took Sharath Kamal no time to wrap up the game.
Anthony Amalraj too got off to a fine start, beating Nepal’s Santoo Shrestha 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 in a match that hardly lasted 16 minutes.
The march was further carried by Madhurika Patkar and Ayhika Mukherjee, who defeated Regina Kim of Uzbekistan 11-3, 11-8, 11-3 and Chen Szu-yu of Chinese Taipei 6-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9, respectively.
In the doubles, however, neither the men nor the women could build on their early wins. While Desai-Anthony lost out to the Taiwanese pair of Liu Hsing-yin and Peng Wang-Wei 11-5, 7-11, 11-3, 8-11, 6-11, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sharath Kamal restored some joy in the camp by defeating Mahfoodh Sayed Murtadha and Rashed of Bahrain 11-8, 11-6, 11-3 to book a place in the quarterfinals. They will lock horns with the Chinese pair of Liang Jingkun and Lin Gaoyuan.
Meanwhile, in the women's competition, Batra and Kamath lost to South Korea’s Yang Haeun and Jeon Jihee 6-11, 9-11, 7-11 in the Round of 32 after beating Kazakhstan’s Lavrova Anastassiya and Khusseinova Gulchekhra 3-1 in the previous round.
Similarly, Patkar and Sutirtha Mukherjee too faced defeat against Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching of Hong Kong 9-11, 5-11, 11-13, after defeating Macau’s Tao Chong and Lei Wai Mei 3-0 in the Round of 64.