CHENNAI: The Indian men’s team showed their pedigree in the classification matches to finish the World Team Table Tennis Championships in 13th place, their best-ever finish at this level. The most important thing, however, is the fact that they have cemented their place in the Championship division for the next edition.
They beat CWG finalists Singapore first up before an impressive victory over European heavyweights and World No 5 France. Romania were outclassed in the last encounter. The depth of the team was showcased during the course of the tournament.
While A Sharath Kamal was the star during the group stages, G Sathiyan, India’s highest-ranked paddler, showed his mettle in the latter stages. Sharath had won six and lost only twice. Harmeet Desai also played his part, especially in the victory over Croatia. When India was trailing 0-2 in the crucial tie, it was Harmeet who came to the team’s rescue with a win over Frane Kojic.
The 25-year-old Sathiyan got the better of World No 28 Lebesson Emmanuel in the fifth and deciding match against France while Singapore’s CWG singles gold medallist Gao Ning was brushed aside 3-0. “It has been a memorable tournament for all of us. It was a team effort all the way. Personally, this was my debut as a playing member here. Managing to beat so many top players was great. It shows how far we have come and that we belong at this level,” he told Express. The team is scheduled to fly back to the country on Monday.
Arup Basak, who had accompanied the team this time around as coach, felt India’s performance graph has gone up since Gold Coast.“Sports is a result-oriented business and people will mostly focus on the losses. But we beat so many higher-ranked paddlers and gave solid competition to the major countries. I believe we have shown a lot of improvement, not only among men but also with the women. They will need more time but it was a good event overall.”
The women’s squad finished 17th in their Championship debut. They had earlier lost all five of their group matches. The only consolation was the win over Luxembourg in classification matches. A lot was expected from them since their display in Australia.