The Indian women, who won the team table tennis gold at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, lost their opening two matches at the World team table tennis championships at the Halmstad Arena in Sweden.
In their first match of the tournament, they came up against the world number one Chinese team, losing 3-0. Mouma Das was first up, but the 34-year-old could do little against world number 11 Ning Ding, going down 6-11, 2-11, 4-11.
India’s number one player, Manika Batra, suffered a similar fate against the 5th-ranked Manyu Weng, losing in straight games, but the first and second game were tight. Batra lost 10-12, 9-11, 5-11.
The world’s top-ranked player, Meng Chen, made light work of Madhurika Patkar, brushing her aside 11-8, 11-1, 11-5. India are ranked 14th-ranked in the women’s division, but they were upset 1-3 by hosts Sweden later, who are almost nine places below them.
It was a day to forget for CWG gold medallist Manika Batra as she lost all three of her singles matches. In her second match of the day, the world number 58 was upset by the 138th-ranked Linda Bergstrom 7-11, 11-9, 5-11, 9-11.
Madhurika Patkar defeated Jennifer Jonsson to give the India a glimmer of hope, winning in five games, but Mouma and Manika lost two more singles matches to give Sweden the tie. Both were defeated in straight games by Sweden’s top-ranked player Matilda Ekholm.
India face their CWG final opponents, Singapore, on Monday.
Men go down to France despite Sharath Kamal heroics
The men, ranked 10th in the world, narrowly lost 2-3 to world number five France, despite Achanta Sharath Kamal pulling off two victories against strong opponents.
Simon Gauzy, the world number 10 was stretched all the way by India’s top-ranked paddler Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, eventually winning 11-13, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 12-10. Sharath Kamal then caused the first of his upsets, when he defeated the higher-ranked Emmanuel Lebesson 9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 13-11.
Anthony Amalraj also suffered a narrow loss against Quentin Robinot in five games, but Sharath levelled the tie up with a superb win over Gauzy. The 48th-ranked Indian shocked Gauzy in four games, 11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 14-12.
Sathiyan then lost the deciding match in four games, going down to Lebesson 13-11, 4-11, 9-11, 3-11. The men will face 25th-ranked Poland on Monday, before going up against a tough South Korean side later.