Indian table tennis’ large contingent struggled to advance into the round of 16 of the Oman Open on Friday with Achanta Sharath Kamal and Harmeet Desai being the only two winners.
The women’s contingent, which included experienced paddlers like Sutirtha Mukhrejee, Madhurika Patkar, Archana Kamath and many more, didn’t see a single athlete advancing from the round of 32.
Sharath, Harmeet leads India’s brigade
Indian table tennis’ first win of the day came when Harmeet Desai got the better of Canada’s Jeremy Hazin with a superior 4-0 score line.
The Canadian paddler’s only competitive showing came in the first game when he stretched Harmeet Desai to 10-12 before eventually fizzling out. The remaining three games were straightforward for the Indian table tennis player as he swept away his opponent 10-12, 11-8, 11-4, 11-4.
Veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal kept the momentum going for India as he defeated compatriot Manush Utpalbhai Shah with an identical score line.
Unlike Harmeet Desai, Sharath Kamal hardly saw any competition from Shah, who went down 6-11, 4-11, 9-11, 8-11 in the only all-Indian round of 32 clash of the day.
The remaining men’s singles participants of the day, Mudit Dani and Manav Thakkar, lost their respective matches.
Women paddlers endure tough day
The Indian women paddlers had a tough day in office with all the nine athletes losing their respective round of 32 matches.
Sutirtha Mukherjee opened the campaign with a narrow 3-4 loss against France’s Laura Gasnier. After losing the first two games 8-11 and 5-11, the Indian table tennis star came back with three consecutive wins of 11-6, 11-8, and 11-7 to lead 3-2.
However, she eventually lost steam as the Frenchwoman capitalized on the opportunity to win the last two games 11-8, 11-6.
The experienced Madhurika Patkar was expected to salvage something on an unfortunate day for India’s women’s paddlers, but she was humbled 1-4 by Japan’s Maki Shiomi.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist lost the first two games 7-11, 8-11 quite comprehensively before showing signs of a fight as she won the third game 11-9. However, that remained the only red mark on Maki Shiomi’s scorecard before she swept away Patkar 11-5, 11-1 in the remaining two games.
The promising Archana Kamath was also on the list of surprise eliminations on Friday for the Indian contingent, as she went down 1-4 against Serbia’s Izabela Lupulesku.
Archana Kamath took Lupulesku to the wire in the first game that ended 12-10 in the Serbian’s favour before the Indian levelled proceedings at 1-1 with an 11-5 win. However, a clinical Lupulesku won the remaining three games 11-9, 11-2, 11-9 to seal the match 4-1.
In other matches, Diya Parag Chitale, Kaushani Nath, Reeth Tennison, Moumita Dutta and Vijay Shruti Amrute all lost their respective round of 32 matches.
What next for Achanta Sharath Kamal and Harmeet Desai
The Oman Open round of 16 will see Achanta Sharath Kamal taking on Belarus’ Aliaksandr Khanin while Harmeet Desai will be taking on Egypt’s Omar Assar.
Where to watch 2020 ITTF Oman Open
There will be no telecast of the Oman Open tournament but one can stream it live on the official website of the International Table Tennis Federation, at ITTF.com.