Armed with a bronze medal, the India men’s team will be brimming with confidence when it takes on the Republic of Korea, the top seed, in the semifinals of the 25th-ITTF-ATTU Asian table tennis championships here on Friday.
Certainly, Korea will be the overwhelming favourite with Jang Woojin (world-ranked 12) and Lee Sangsu (22) spearheading the attack. But star paddler Sharath Kamal is expecting India to provide a tough fight and if possible script a memorable win.
“Korea is a strong team. We lost to them (Korea) in the semifinals of the Asian Games in 2018. But I have been in good form and the team has been having good confidence especially after the win over Iran the other day. If we can win the semis, we will be the favourite to win the title,” Sharath told Sportstar.
On the country’s first-ever medal in the championships, Sharath said: “This medal is something I have been chasing for the last 20 years and finally I could get that; really happy and proud with this achievement.”
A good start will be the key. “We have to win the first two matches and put them under pressure. We have a lot of confidence from the match against Iran. It will be an uphill task as Korea is a strong team. We are the underdogs for sure,” said G. Sathiyan.
Harmeet Desai, India’s third-best paddler, said with the current form of Sharath and Sathiyan, India can pull off an upset. “We have nothing to lose. This is our best chance to win,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Indian women’s team defeated Chinese Taipei 3-1 for positions 5-8 on Thursday.
Women’s Team (positions 5-8): India bt Chinese Taipei 3-1 (Archana Kamath bt Hsien-Tzu Cheng 11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 13-11; Sutirtha Mukherjee lost to Hsing-Yin Liu 11-4, 12-14, 5-11, 4-11; Sreeja Akula bt Yu-Jhun Li 11-4, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4; Sutirtha bt Hsien-Tzu Cheng 11-2, 11-4, 11-5).