World Team Table Tennis Championships 2018, Day 4 round-up: Austria spoils the party for the Indian Men
The last of the group stage matches took place on Day 4 of The Liebherr 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships.
The Indian men had started off their campaign with a defeat as they lost 3-2 to France. Their resurgence started with a 3-2 win over Poland in the second match. A 3-0 drubbing by Austria meant that India's campaign took a downturn once again. However, a 3-2 win by India against Croatia helped the players regain the much-needed self-belief. This win was also crucial as it enabled them to stay in contention for the Ranking 1-12 knockout stage.
Coming into their final group stage match against Austria on the back of a win, the Indians were extremely confident. The exploits of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gyanasekaran put them in a commanding position as they won the first two rubbers. The Indian veteran defeated Stefan Fegerl 11-7, 19-11, 11-8 and World Rank 46, Sathiyan won 11-4, 11-6, 7-11, 15-13 against Robert Gardos.
Then, the responsibility to get India through rested on Harmeet Desai as he took on Daniel Habesohn. After starting off well by winning the second and third game, Desai gave away the 2-1 lead to lose 2-3. After that, Sharath Kamal took centre stage along with Austria's Robert Gardos. However, the World Rank 55, Robert completely outclassed the 35-year-old as he defeated him 11-2, 11-8, 11-9 in straight games. The Indian never really looked comfortable in this tie and could not get going to play his classic shots.
The fifth and final rubber was contested between Sathiyan and Stefan Fegerl. This was a close encounter but in the end, Sathiyan lost 11-13, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, thereby giving a pass to Austria in the Round-of-16 (Ranking 1-12).
India, meanwhile, finished 5th in Group D with 7 points and will be taking on Singapore in knockout stages of Ranking 13-24. Credit has to be given to the Austrian side for keeping their cool to orchestrate a massive turnaround. India had a massive chance of playing in the Ranking 1-12 knockout stages had they won this match but it was just not meant to be and Austria proved their dominance in the end.
The women's team, on the other hand, after losing all their Group stage matches, finished at the bottom of Group A with 5 points and will be facing Luxembourg in the Ranking 13-24 knockout stage.