Indian men’s team’s campaign at the 2022 ITTF World Team Championships Finals came to a close in the main draw round of 16 on Thursday, as they lost against top seeds China in Chengdu.
Having qualified as one of the two best third-placed teams in the group stages, India faced a stern test against the Chinese squad comprising of the world’s two best male paddlers.
First up, Harmeet Desai went up against world No 1 Fan Zhendong. The Indian made a good effort in the second game, but Zhendong won 11-2, 11-9, 11-5.
Then, India’s no 1 Sathiyan Gnanasekaran was up against the legendary Ma Long, the current world No 2 and defending Olympic champion. Sathiyan made a superb start to the match, going toe to toe with Ma Long, saving four game points in the opener before eventually dropping it 12-14. The second game saw good rallies too but Ma Long found his groove and soon it was over in three games, with the Chinese star winning 14-12, 11-5, 11-0.
The third game pitted two left-handers against each other. India’s Manush Shah was up against the highly-rated Wang Chuqin. The world No 11 from China won 11-4, 11-5, 11-6.
In the group stages, the Indians had a good run in the ‘Group of Death’, finishing level on points with second seeds Germany and France. India had defeated Germany in their match and won two more ties but the defeat against France pushed them to third place and a tough draw to face China.
Earlier, in the women’s round of 16 on Wednesday, Manika Batra and Co lost 0-3 against Chinese Taipei.