The Indian men’s and women’s table tennis teams registered wins over Germany and the Czech Republic in their respective matches at the ITTF World Team Championships Finals 2022, here on Sunday.
The Indian men’s team, unseeded in the competition, were led by Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, who pulled off two wins over higher-ranked players in the tie, to give his side 3-1 over second seeds Germany in their Group 2 tie.
World No.37 Sathiyan, a Commonwealth Games 2022 bronze-medallist, came back from being two games down to beat Benedikt Duda, ranked one spot above him, 3-2 (11-13, 4-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9) and gave the Indian team a 1-0 lead.
However, Germany made a comeback into the tie in the next match as world No.9 Qiu Dang beat Harmeet Desai 3-1 (7-11, 9-11, 13-11, 3-11).
World No.142 Manav Thakkar then rose to the occasion for India, upsetting Ricardo Walther, who sits 68 spots above him, 3-1 (13-11, 6-11, 11-8, 12-10). Thereafter, in-form Sathiyan beat Qiu Dang 3-2 (10-12, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9) to win India the match in thrilling fashion.
Like in his first match, the 29-year-old Indian was 2-0 down in the rubber at one point. The final game was an end-to-end affair as G Sathiyan and Dang constantly traded points, neither giving the other an inch. The Indian won the final two points under pressure to eventually secure the tie for his team.
The Indian men now sit second in Group 2 with four points and will next face Kazakhstan on Monday.
Meanwhile, the women’s team won its first tie of the tournament after a 3-0 win over the Czech Republic.
World No.44 Manika Batra won the first match 3-1 (11-6, 11-6, 10-12, 11-8) over Hana Matelova. National champion Sreeja Akula then gave India a two-match lead with a 3-0 (11-5, 11-3, 11-8) win over Marketa Sevcikova.
Teenager Diya Chitale secured the full two points for the team with a 3-1 (11-13, 15-13, 12-10, 14-12) win over Katerina Tomanovska.
The women’s team now sits second in Group 5 and will face Egypt next. India needs to finish in the top two in their group to progress to the round of 16.