Jakarta: Until the other evening, the Indian table tennis was struggling to etch its name on the Asian Games medal lists. But on Wednesday, the paddlers ensured for the second time that they will return home with two bronze medals, at least.
The Indian mixed team, comprising veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal and new poster girl Manika Batra, showed exemplary courage and resistance to beat the DPR Korea’s pair of Ji Song An and Hyo Sim Cha 3-2 (4-11, 12-10, 6-11. 11-6, 11-8) and enter the semi-finals.
The two North Korean southpaws hit the top momentum straightaway taking a 5-0 lead to upset the Indians who were far behind their opponents.
For most part of the game, the experienced An was in complete control sending down winners after winners with his powerful forehands. Cha, too, complimented him and exploting the angles to perfection she joined the party before the Koreans gave away four points to the Indian duo, all coming of their opponents’ serve.
At the break, coach Massimo Constantini explained to the pair some change of plan which was to bear fruits soon after as the Indians surged with a 5-0 lead.
The new-found confidence in the fourth game was evident when the Indians began the decider as they led 5-3. But the Koreans fighting well made it 6-6 and then they were not in the game as Manika and Sharath mix-matched well, changing flanks to decieve the DPR Korean duo. So much so, the Indians were four points ahead at one point before the Indians sewed up well to ensure the bronze medal.