2022 Asian Games: Historic day for Indian table tennis as women’s doubles team reaches semifinals after beating powerhouse China, assured of a medal
It is India's first medal in the women's doubles category in table tennis at the Asian Games.
Ayhika Mukherjee (L) and Sutirtha Mukherjee (R) (via Rediff)
In what can be said to be the best result for the Indian contingent at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou so far, the women’s doubles team of Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee made history as they entered the semifinals of the event, assuring themselves and India of at least a bronze medal.
It is India’s first medal in this category in table tennis, and it has come at the expense of defeating the defending world champions and the World No. 3 Chinese combine of Yidi Wang and Meng Chan, a remarkable feat in itself.
It was a moment full of pride and jubilation just when the Indian duo clinched the fourth game 11-9 to move past the Chinese 11-5, 11-5, 5-11, 11-9 and enter the last-four stage, taking a moment to realize the enormity of their achievement. It is not India’s maiden medal in table tennis at the Asian Games, but it is surely the greatest one, as beating the Chinese in a sport they utterly dominate on their home soil is something out of this world.
The World TT Contender winners this year, Ayhika and Sutirtha, started off brilliantly and took the first two games by an identical margin of 11-5 to catch the home favorites by surprise. They tried to stage a comeback and won the third game 11-5, but the Indians were determined to book their date with history and survived a few nervy moments to emerge winners in the fourth game.
This monumental win ensures that the Indian table tennis team will not return empty-handed from Hangzhou after the men’s team and the mixed doubles team failed to defend the bronze medals they won in the last edition. It also ensures that Indian table tennis is not just all about players like Achanta Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, and that the others too are making a mark on the world stage.
India missed on a medal by a whisker in the men’s doubles; Manika bows out
Earlier in the day, India kept knocking on the door to guarantee a medal and played some superlative table tennis. The closest we came today was the men’s doubles combine of Manav Thakkar and Manush Shah, who could not hold their nerves in the crunch moments and went down fighting to the number one seeds from South Korea.
It was in the hands of the Indian duo before they let it slip and finally lost 2-3 (8-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-6, 9-11) and with that, they also lost another historic medal for India.
India’s premiere women’s table tennis player, Manika, showed great fight and took two games from the Chinese before eventually going down 2-4 in the quarterfinals. Earlier yesterday, she became the first Indian singles player ever to make it to the last-eight stage in the Asian Games. With the medal in women’s doubles now assured, India’s medal tally has now reached 3 in table tennis in the history of the Games.
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