Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra put up a superb performance to stun the World No. 5 Korean pair of Lee Sang-su and Jeon Ji-hee 8-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8 in the Asian qualifiers mixed doubles final on Saturday. With this win, the Indian duo secured their place at the Tokyo Olympics and will be the country’s first-ever representation in the event.
Coming into this match on the back of a 4-2 semifinal win against Koen Pang Yew En and Lin Ye, Batra and Kamal were ready for a tough fight. The Korean duo too had a dominating run in the competition, winning with ease in the quarters and the semis.
At Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena on Saturday, the Koreans started off brilliantly, winning the first two games, despite stiff resistance from the Indians. The pendulum swayed in favor of Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra in the third game and there was no looking back for the Indians since then.
Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra won the fourth to draw level at 2-2 before a tense fight in the fifth game. At 11-11, the Indian duo held their nerves to bag two game points, one of which they converted to lead 3-2.
In the sixth game, the Koreans were up once again, leading 8-4 at one stage. But the Indian pair of Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra staged a brilliant comeback, winning the next seven points to etch their names in the annals of Indian sporting history.
Sharath Kamal-Manika Batra pair did a 2018 repeat
Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra repeated their heroics from the 2018 Asian Games. There, too, they had beaten this same Korean pair to clinch their historic Asian bronze in Jakarta.
Earlier, both Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra along with G Sathiyan and Sutirtha Mukherjee secured their Tokyo Olympic berths in their respective singles categories. While Sathiyan and Mukherjee bagged their berths by topping their respective groups, Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra went through due to their higher rankings.