Indian paddlers create history bronze in Asian Games-2018 Jakarta
Jakarta(Sports Desk)- The men squad of Indian table tennis created history when it ensured itself with a bronze medal after surprising Japan 3-1 in the quarterfinals at JI Expo Hall here tonight.Incidentally, it would be first ever medal for India in the sport in any Games, ever since the discipline was included way back in 1958.
Naturally, the mood at Hall B was one of jubilation as teammates crossed the surrounds to hug G. Sathiyan soon after he punched the air in celebration—his scorching forehand to the right of Kenta Matsudaira brooked no reply—as the Indian fell on his knees, having won the fourth tie 12-10, 6-11, 11-7, 11-4.
“My rhythm was good. I made some silly mistakes in the first game, but didn’t repeat them. The way Sharath bhaia played against Matsudaira gave me confidence,” said Sathiyan. Earlier, it was Sathiyan who provided the lead when he simply ran over Jin Ueda 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 in what turned out to be a warm-up tie! Soon after Sharath Kamal, the top-ranked Indian in the world at No. 33, accounted for Matsudaira in his first singles in straight games of 11-8, 12-10, 11-8 to put Indian well on way to enter the semifinals.
But Harmeet Desai, playing the third, was pulled down to give some kind of a jolt to India as the Indian lost a comfortable 2-1 advantage and the tie to Japanese Masaki Yoshida 11-9, 12-14, 11-8, 8-11, 4-11, particularity the decider tamely. Probably, this setback must have been rankling in the mind of world No 39 Sathiyan when took on Matsudaira in his reverse singles. So much so, he allowed the Japanese some leeway when he deuces in the first game. But then The Chennai paddler was quick to grab on the chances to win it on extended points.
Though he lost the second game without a fight after several unforced errors, he stayed focused and pulled up nicely to win the next two for a rare Indian victory and the celebration that followed. Sharath, the poster boy of Indian table tennis, was almost in tears when he said, “I will cherish this win for a long time to come. We played brilliant and kept mounting pressure on the Japanese. It paid off really well.”
Asked about the chances against South Korea in the semifinals, Sharath said: “They are a good aide but you can expect us to give our best shot tomorrow.” An elated coach Massimo Costantini gave full credit to the team members, saying, “they played superior game and the results are in front of you. We do have some strategy against the Koreans and let’s see how we put it on the table tomorrow afternoon.”
TTFI officials, President Dushyant Chautala, put it aptly: “it’s a great showing by the team. They achieved a rare (both tram golds) in CWG at Gold Coast. And what they have done here is even better, the firs medal.”
Secretary General M.P. Singh was emotional. “I feel lucky to be a part of the contingent that won medals at Gold Coast and here. We are immensely pleased,” he said giving credit to the boys and the coach who had strategized it all.Former Secretary General and Advisor to TTFI, Dhanraj Choudhary, who’s here in his capacity as jury, was full of praise for the team members. “Their hard work has paid off. We haven waiting for such a moment.