Kuala Lumpur, March 4 (IANS) Achanta Sharath Kamal, leading from the front, helped India beat Nigeria 3-2 to enter the semi-finals of the second division in theTable Tennis World Championships here on Friday.
They are slated to take on Egypt, who downed Puerto Rico 3-2, later on Friday night. On Thursday evening, the Indian had beaten Hungary 3-1 in the first round of the main draw.
Following the footsteps of their men, the Indian women’s team inflicted another defeat over Puerto Rica, this time a 3-1 verdict, in the quarter-finals. In the semi-finals, they will be taking on Serbia, who beat Vietnam 3-1.
Sharath was the star performer for India as he had to bring in all his experience to the table when India was down 1-2 with both Soumyajit Ghosh and Harmeet Desai having lost their singles. With everything hinging on him, Sharath took on Quadri Aruna, Nigieria’s top player, in the fourth singles.
India lost very badly to Nigeria in their group F match, going down 0-3 in the first stage of the championships and that must have been at the back of their mind when they began. So much so, it was not an auspicious opening as Soumyajit Ghosh began badly as Quadri Aruna beat the Indian 3-2. Nevertheless, Sharath despite losing the first game, played his best in recent times to win 8-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-9 against Quadri in their reverse singles.
Earlier, in the second rubber, Sharath avenged his group match loss when he downed Segun Toriola 11-3, 13-11, 9-11, 11-5. But it was his triumph in the fourth singles breathed fresh life into Soumyajit Ghosh who was to play the crucial decider. And the former national champion did not disappoint as he accounted for Segun Toriola in straight games of 1-9, 11-4, 11-9 and made amends for his opening singles loss of 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-9 to Quadri, after leading 2-0.
In the women’s quarter-finals, Mouma Das was not in her elements as India started on a wrong note when the most experienced Indian lost to Adriana Diaz 5-11, 14-12, 11-6, 6-11, 5-11 in a well contested opening rubber.
Like Shamini the other day, national champion Manika Batra was the saviour for India on Friday when she first beat Melaine Daize 12-14, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 and then Adriana 11-2, 12-10, 12-14, 11-5. In the third singles, K. Shamini, fighting hard, won against Carelyn Cordero 12-10, 11-4, 7-11, 10-12, 11-7.