Both players lost to higher-ranked Chinese opponents.

Indian para table tennis players Sonalben Patel and Bhavina Patel began their campaigns with opening round defeats in their respective events at the Tokyo Paralympics on Wednesday.

Competing in the women’s Class 3 category, Sonalben was ahead after the first three games but lost momentum to lose 11-9, 3-11, 17-15, 7-11, 4-11 against Li Qian of China. The Chinese paddler is the current world no. 4 and Rio Paralympics silver medallist and put up a strong challenge against the Indian.

It was always going to be a tough Group D outing against . On the other hand, Bhavina Patel was up against world no. 1 paddler Zhou Ying of China and went down with a 3-11, 9-11, 2-11 defeat in the women’s singles Class 4 Group A fixture.

The Indian duo is making its debut in Tokyo Paralympics. Both of them belong to the state of Gujarat and will be hoping for better showings in their upcoming matches.

Bhavina Patel will take on Great Britain’s Megan Shackleton in her next group stage match. On the other hand, Sonalben Patel will lock horns with Lee Mi-Gyu of South Korea in the upcoming group stage encounter at the Tokyo Paralympics. They will be going all out for a win at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

India’s chances of a medal in racket sports at the Paralympics are high this time around. Apart from table tennis, India is fielding a strong badminton contingent in Tokyo. The sport of badminton is making its debut at the quadrennial event. Coach Gaurav Khanna has spoken highly about India’s medal hopes in badminton.

The biggest medal hopeful will be world no. 1 in the men’s SL3 category, Pramod Bhagat. His compatriot Manoj Sarkar and Suhas Lalinakere Yathiraj are also strong competitors.

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