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Indian table tennis teams make winning start to Asian Games 2023

Published at :September 23, 2023 at 5:30 AM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : Twitter)

Siddharthan P

Both men and women defeated Singapore on the opening day.

The Indian men's and women's table tennis teams are off to a winning start in the preliminary round in the team events in Asian Games 2023. While the men's team started with a win over Yemen (3-0) before also defeating Singapore (3-1), the women's team started off their campaign with a thrilling 3-2 win over the Singaporeans.

Facing Yemen as their first opponent from Group F at the Gongshu Canal Sports Park Gymnasium, the men's team dominated their opponents to secure a comprehensive victory.

G Sathiyan started off the proceedings with a straight set (11-3, 11-2, 11-6) win. His friend Achanta Sharath Kamal made it 2-0 as he breezed past Ebrahim Abdulhakim Mohamm Gubran in just 17 minutes. India's highest ranked paddler Harmeet Desai then completed the formalities by beating Magd Ahmed Ali Aldhubhani 11-1, 11-1, 11-7.

The men's team further strengthened their position in Group F by beating Singapore in a closely fought win. It was Sathiyan who took on Izaac Yong in the first match of this encounter. Yong won the first game, but the Chennai-born paddler won the next two games. The Singaporean showed aggression to take a 7-1 lead in the penultimate game. But Indian stormed back to get the game and match.

Harmeet Desai continued his good form to win the first two games in his match against Yew En Koen Pang. The 155th ranked Pang wasn't giving up easily as he put up a brave fight to win the next two games. But it wasn't enough to stop the Indian from winning the match to give an overall lead of 2-0. Singapore got one back thanks to Zhe Yu Clarence Chew who slayed the experienced Sharath Kamal.

The onus was on the Sathiyan to win this match for India and the 30-year-old Indian was up to the task. The paddler showed his firepower as he beat Pang three games to one to consolidate their top position in Group F. It was not India's first win against Singapore as earlier in the day, the women's team battled it out to a 3-2 win against their Asian counterparts.

India’s Ayhika Mukherjee took Singapore's Jian Zeng in the first game. While Ayhika won the first game, Zeng made a short work of the Indian in the second game winning 11-2. The 26-year Indian couldn't break the momentum as she lost the 37-minute encounter. One of the bright hopes, Manika Batra was up next and she lived up to her tag with a commanding 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3 win.

The reigning women's singles national champion Sreeja Akula gave India the lead in a 52-minute gruelling match. It was then the battle of winners as Zeng took on Batra. The Singaporean was off to an explosive start winning the first game 11-3. The young Indian sensation gave one straight back by taking the second with the same scoreline. It was the same case in the next two games with Zeng winning it third and Manika winning it fourth with a similar score of 12-10.

Eventually Zeng prevailed in the final set and took the match to a decider. Ayhika made it easy in the fifth game winning it 11-7, 11-8, 9-11, and 11-5. The 26-year adopted a defensive strategy to keep the ball on the table and waited for her opponent to make mistakes. It paved off and would be a huge confidence booster going into the next round.