Fri, 22 Sep 2023

Chengdu [China], October 5 (ANI): The Indian women's table tennis team lost against Chinese Taipei 3-0 on Wednesday in Chengdu, China, and was eliminated from the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Team Championships Finals 2022 in the round of 16.

Manika Batra, rated first in India, was defeated by Chen Szu-Yu, ranked 22nd in the world, 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 11-3) in the opening match.

Then, Cheng I-Cheng defeated national champion and gold medalist Sreeja Akula 3-1 (8-11, 11-5, 6-11, 9-11).

Diya Chitale, a teen, gave Liu Hsing-Yin a tough time in the third match, losing 3-2 (6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 7-11) despite her best efforts.

The Indian women's table tennis had qualified for the knockouts after finishing second behind Germany in Group 5.

Singapore will now play Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals.

The men's team, meanwhile, face top seeds China in the round of 16 on Thursday after they escaped elimination from the ITTF World Championships Finals by the skin of their teeth after losing against France but still entering the main draw courtesy of Hong Kong and their world rankings today.

Earlier as a change of strategy, India opened with Manav Thakkar against Alexis Lebrun, ranked No. 30 in the world, and the 0-3 (6-11, 8-11, 8-11) loss straightaway pushed them on the back foot. G. Sathiyan, ranked No. 37, took on brother Felix Lebrun in the second tie. But the 86th- ranked Frenchman punched way above his weight to pummel the Indian in straight games, to win 11-4, 11-2, 11-6 and put his side 2-0 up.

Harmeet failed to withstand the pressure despite putting up a fight, but Jules Rolland (141), ranked a few places below the Indian (124), won 11-13, 13-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7 in the gripping third rubber to give France the top-of-the-table position in their group, despite a three-way tie.

With three teams France, Germany and India finishing on the same points (7) with three wins and one loss each, France pitchforked itself to the top position on a head-to-head win over India. However, India's 0-3 loss enabled Germany, who beat France 3-1 yesterday, to take the second spot in the group.

Yet, a question mark was hanging before the Indians as their entry into the main draw depended on two teams as only two higher-ranked teams that finished third in their groups could have filled the two vacant slots in the top 16-team knockout. No. 12 Hong Kong sealed the second slot in Group 3 despite their 2-3 loss to Romania.

The clincher for India was Hong Kong occupying second place in the group. In another three-way tie, Romania got elbowed to the third spot, and their world ranking was four slots below India's! The last of the 16 team positions went to No. 8 England when they beat Australia 3-0 in their only win in Group 5.

Though the Indian men have captured their knockout place, they will have to accept the unkindest cut in the main draw, despite toppling Germany, the No. 2 team in the world, in their group matches. At the No. 2 slot, they will face top-seed China first up in the pre-quarterfinals. (ANI)

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