Table tennis

Asian Cup: Manika Batra, Harmeet Desai begin with wins, A Sharath Kamal loses opener

Kamal lost to Korea’s Lee Sang-su in straight games 11-5, 11-7, 11-9

India’s top-ranked table tennis player A Sharath Kamal began his campaign at the Asian Cup on the wrong foot as he went down against South Korea’s Lee Sang-su 11-5, 11-7, 11-9 in his first group match on Friday at the Arena by TransStadia in Ahmedabad.

Kamal, who is ranked 47th in the World, was outclassed in the first two games by the World No 14 Lee. However, the third game went the distance as the duo were tied at 9-9 before the Korean upped the ante to take the game and match 11-9.

However, it is still not curtains for the Indian who still has a chance to qualify for the quarters if he finishes in top-two of the group stage. However, he faces China’s Lin Gaoyun in the next match, who is ranked 29th in the World. Kamal has to win the next two matches if he has to assure himself of a top-two finish. Second seed and world No 7 Jun Mizutani of Japan also features in this group.

India’s only women’s player in the tournament, Manika Batra began her campaign with a tight win over Qatar’s Aia Mohamed 13-11, 11-8, 11-7. Drawn in Group D, Batra will have to top the group to qualify for play-off matches against the third place winners of Group A to C.

The top two from the playoffs will then progress to the quarters. Harmeet Desai, who also features in Group D of the men’s singles, also began his campaign with an easy win over Abdulaziz Al-Abbad of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in straight games victory 11-6, 12-10, 11-7.

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