Asian Games: Sharath Kamal pulls off comeback against Kazakhstan, sends Indian team to quarterfinals

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HANGZHOU (China): The Indian men’s table tennis team sealed their place in the quarterfinals of the team event after clinching victory in a nail-biting contest against Kazakhstan in the Asian Games on Sunday.

India’s 41-year-old paddler Sharath Kamal stole the show by stepping up when the game was slipping away from the hands of the Indian team.

In the men’s round of 16 match between India and Kazakhstan, experienced paddler Sharath Kamal lost the opener by 1-3 (8-11, 11-9, 6-11, 8-11) to Kirill Gerassimenko. Sathiyan Gnanasekaran with his sheer grit and determination brought India back by clinching a 3-0 victory in the second match (14-12, 11-8, 11-4) against Aidos Kenzhigulov.

Harmeet Desai came into the action to take on Alan Kurmangaliyev in the third singles and he didn’t disappoint. Desai defeated Alan Kurmangaliyev by 3-0 (11-7, 12-10, 11-5) which momentarily gave India a 2-1 lead in the round of 16 tie. Sathiyan came back and had a chance to finish the tie here itself as he levelled the score with two games all against Gerassimenko after winning the fourth by 11-5.

However, Gerassimenko bounced back to claim the decider by 11-5 and take away the fourth match. The tie went to the decider between Sharath Kamal and Aidos Kenzhigulov. The veteran paddler lost the opening game 5-11 to Kenzhigulov and conceded another defeat in the second game 7-11.

India were on the brink of crashing out of the event after losing the first two games, but he pulled out a rabbit from the hat by winning the third 9-11. He went on to make it 2-2 in the deciding singles after clinching the fourth game by 11-8.

Sharath managed to move ahead and lead the opposition paddler by 6-5. Kenzhigulov didn’t allow him to build on that lead as he levelled the score at 6-6 and then 7-7. Sharath, with all his experience, completed an incredible turnaround and took away the fifth game and the entire match.

With this victory, India progressed to the quarterfinals where they will face South Korea at 4 pm  on Sunday. (ANI)

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