Indians squander chances and a semifinal spot
New Delhi, April 11: With the two quarterfinal clashes scheduled on adjacent tables and focus entirely on Chinese youngster Zhang Jike, what took the breath of a packed hall at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships in Wuxi was the men’s team contest between India and Japan.
And India, which nearly pulled of a sensational result against the Japanese, squandered chance after chance and advantage after advantage to bow out 2-3 thanks to Koki Niwa, the backbone of Japanese triumph.
After Soumyajit Ghosh had given his team a perfect start with a win over Yuya Oshima (7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6), Sharath Kamal held a total of three match points in the fourth game against Koki Niwa before losing (11-1, 6-11, 8-11, 14-12, 12-10).
The agony continued as Harmeet Desai, despite leading 2-1 and 10-all in the fourth game against Kenta Matsudaira, the Indian experienced a five-game defeat (5-11, 8-11, 11-2, 14-12, 11-6). But Sharath returning with vengeance beat Yuya Oshima (11-8, 11-13, 11-5, 6-11, 11-6) to set an intriguing battle between Ghosh and Koki Niwa to settle the issue.
Ghosh began well but eventually lost as the verdict went in favour of Koki Niwa who won 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-4, to be the hero of the hour.
India, who subsequently, lost the 5-6 positions match against Hong Kong 0-3 will now play for the 7-8 positions tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Indians had something to gain from the team championships, having beaten DPR Korea 3-2 in the first division final and for the first time ever. This came as a consolation for the Indians who had surpassed their expectations earlier, taking the Japanese to the brink.
But it was not all that easy against the North Koreans, though both Soumyajit and Harmeet had given another perfect start beating Choe Il 11-6, 11-9, 12-10 and Pak Sin Hyok 11-5, 11-13, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5 in a tough second rubber. But what followed was rather surprising as G. Sathiyan was blanked out by Kang Wi Hun who won 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 and Ghosh lost his reversingles to Pak Sin Hyok 10-12, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8 to leave the fate of India in the hands of Harmeet.
The man from Surat did not disappoint as he beat Choe Il in straight games of 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 to make some amends for his folly against the Japanese.