Achanta Sharth Kamal puts India in Champion Division quarters

Sharath in action at WuxiNew Delhi: With the main draw place at stake in the Champions Division, Achanta Sharath Kamal, the top-ranked Indian in the world, led the Indian squad’s march beating Thailand 3-1 in the semifinal of the First Division and enter the final along with DPR Korea who defeated Iran 3-0 in the second semifinal.

This was the second occasion that the Indians have made it to the quarterfinals of the Champions Division of the Asian event where they are drawn to meet Japan. Before they do so, they will first clash with DPR Korea in the final of the first division.

Sharath Kamal’s form was crucial on the day for the Indians as he was the one who got the team across the line. Despite Thai Padasak Tanviriyavechakul providing a rousing start beating G Sathiyan in the opening rubber 11-9, 11-6, 14-12, the match turned on its head when Sharath entered the arena, calming down the nerves of the Indian bench with straight games triumph of 11-9, 11-5, 11-6 against Supanut Wisutmaythangkoon.

Sharath soon after returned to make sure that the Indians were not denied a place in the main draw when he defeated Padasak 11-7, 11-6, 11-4, despite the Thai being very strong on his forehands. The tall India was at his best in the crucial rubber and reeled off winners after winners with his backhand working well.

“In the first match against Supanut I was down 3-8, but came back to win 11-9. That gave me the confidence against Padasak. I never let him play to his strength, his fierce forehands,” said Sharath after leading India to victory.

In between, an aggressive Harmeet Desai consolidated the position with a 3-1 (15-13, 14-16, 11-8, 11-5) hard-fought victory over Pattaratom Passara, who is a strong backhand player. “I was down 5-9 but the win in the first game was crucial. Thereafter, I was able to build my game as the match progressed and kept varying my service and hitting wide of his forehand,” said Harmeet.

In the first stage, Indian men drawn with Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan toyed with both teams in group B to win against them 3-0.

But the women team could not progress beyond the semifinals of the first division as they went down to Chinese Taipei 1-3. This means the Indian women will now have to play their positions 9-12 matches.

Earlier, in the quarterfinals they beat Kazakhstan 3-0 as Manika Batra, Mouma Das and Suthirtha Mukherjee making a mockery of their opponents with easy wins. But against Taipei, the going got tough as Mouma, despite putting up a brave show against Cheng I-Ching with a 2-1 lead, lost 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 10-12, 6-11.

Even Manika, who led 2-0 against Chen Szu-Yu, failed to sustain the pace of her Taipei rival and lost 11-3, 11-8, 9-11, 3-11, 6-11. The only saving grace was national champion Madhurika Patkar who defeated the higher-ranked Cheng Hsien-Tzu 11-7, 8-11, 11-4, 14-12 to restore some pride. But Manika lost her reverse single going down 8-11, 14-12, 3-11, 9-1 to Cheng.

In the first stage, drawin in group C with Uzbekistan and Maldives the Indian women had easy passage into the second stage as they beat their rivals 3-0 in both their matches.

They will now take on Malaysia tomorrow in the match for position nine.