Indian Men's Table Tennis team, led by the great Achantha Sharat Kamal, achieved a remarkable feat in the 2018 Asian Games. They have reached the semifinals of the Men's Team event, by beating the number 2 ranked Japanese team 3-1 in the quarters. As a result of reaching the semis, India is ensured of its first ever table tennis medal in Asian Games history.
Table tennis in Asian Games is as tough as the Olympics, with the best players of the world from China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore participating in the tournament.
For India, winning an Asian Games medal in Table Tennis, was unimaginable, even in the recent past.
But the men's team of Sharat Kamal (World rank 33) , G Sathiyan (World rank 39) and Harmeet Desai has made this unimaginable feat, a reality.
Indian Men's team started off their campaign with a 3-0 win against the lower ranked UAE team. However in their second group league match they lost to Chinese Taipei, in a very close encounter by 3-2 margin. The Indian team came back strongly to beat Macau 3-0 in their next encounter.
With two wins and one loss in their first three group league matches, the Indian Team faced Vietnam in their final Group league match. It was a must win match for India, if they were to qualify for the quarter finals.
The Indian Paddlers came out with all guns blazing, against Vietman. In the first match, Sathiyan, the rising star of Indian Table tennis, beat his Vietnamese opponent, in a hard fought 5 set match, to give India a vital 1-0 lead. Then Sharat Kamal made it 2-0 with a straight set win. Harmeet Desai sealed the tie for India with his win in the third match. Thus India ensured a place in the quarters against the mighty Japanese Team.
In the quarters against Japan, the star for India was G Sathiyan. He started off the tie with a straight set win against the World number 28, Jin Ueda. Then Sharat Kamal beat world number 19 Matsudaira to give India a 2-0 lead. After India lost the third rubber, Sathiyan again produced a superlative performance in the fourth, by beating Matsudaira and sealing the historic win for India.
India's Chances of Progressing Further
In the semifinals, India will be facing another Asian Table Tennis powerhouse, South Korea. However with Sharat Kamal and Sathiyan in superb form, India can definitely hope to cause another upset and reach the finals, where they would, most probably, have to face, the mighty Chinese.
Beating the Koreans and Chinese and winning a Gold medal, still seems a far fetched dream. However this bunch of Indian Paddlers have ensured that the table tennis lovers of India can dream big, and expect the unexpected in the days to come.
Follow Asian Games 2018 Medal Tally here!