Indian men and women were the first to book their semi-final slots after winning their Super Eights group matches in the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium at Cuttack on Thursday.
Though the Indian men have a formality to complete – they play their last match against Wales in group F – their women finished their engagements in group F with emphatic triumphs over Wales (3-0), Malaysia (3-0) and Nigeria (3-0).
Earlier, India’s male paddlers defeated Sri Lanka and Malaysia with an identical 3-0 margins to seal their berth.
Anthony Amalraj, who got to play his matches today, had it rather easy against Sri Lankan Krishan Wickramaratha, cleaning him up with a 3-0 verdict in the opener was found to be struggling a bit against Malaysian Feng Chee Leong.
But Amalraj overcame the initial hiccups to beat him 3-1. As for the rest of the matches, they were as simple as they can get as G Sathiyan and Manav Thakkar formed part of the squad against Sri Lanka while Sharath Kamal and Harmeet Desai were pitted against Malaysia.
Coaches Australian Brett Clarke and Soumyadeep Roy gave ample opportunities to all the players before the knockout semi-final and finals on Friday.
Like it was the case with the men, Archana Kamath was the common factor in all the three matches while the two coaches rotated the other players, including Manika Batra, Madhurika Patkar, Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee. All the players came out with flying colours against their opponents.
Besides India, England men and women, too, made the semi-final grade having notched up two wins each. Their men beat Singapore 3-2 while they claimed a 3-1 victory over Australia. Their women, on the other hand, beat Australia 3-1 and then trounced Sri Lanka 3-0.
With two slots left in each of the two sections, the teams that look to book their berths are Singapore and Nigeria, barring a problem or two in the last match.
Sathiyan, Manika top seeds
Only one of the two Indians – G Sathiyan and Manav Thakkar – would progress to the medal round as they were drawn in the same quarter while the other three Indians were lucky to find themselves evenly distributed into the other quarters.
All the Indian male players were among the top eight seeds (based on their ITTF July ranking) while only three women – Manika Batra, Archana Kamath and Madhurika Patkar – were seeded and got first-round byes in the main draw. The remaining two – Mukherjee and Mukherjee – will have to make it to the main draw through qualifiers.
The results (Super Eights):
Men: Group E: England bt Singapore 3-2; Nigeria bt Australia 3-1; England bt Australia 3-1; Singapore bt Nigeria 3-0;
Group F: India bt Sri Lanka 3-0 (A. Amalraj bt Krishan Wickramarathna 11-5, 11-6, 11-3; G. Sathiyan bt Nirmala Jayasinghe 11-5, 11-3, 11-4; Manav Thakkar bt Milinda Lakshitha 8-11, 11-4, 11-8, 12-10, 11-1); Malaysia bt Wales 3-0; India bt Malaysia 3-0 (A. Amalraj bt Feng Chee Leong 7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-8; A. Sharath Kamal bt M.A.H. Muhamad Rizal 11-9, 11-8, 11-6; Harmeet Desai bt Qi Shen Wong 11-2, 11-4, 11-4); Wales bt Sri Lanka 3-1.
Women: Group E: Singapore bt Sri Lanka 3-0; England bt Australia 3-1; England bt Singapore 3-1; Australia bt Sri Lanka 3-0; England bt Sri Lanka 3-0.
Group F: India bt Wales 3-0 (Madhurika Patkar bt Charlotte Carey 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8; Archana Kamath bt Beth Richards 11-8, 11-6, 11-7; Ayhika Mukherjee bt Lara Whitton 11-3, 11-8, 11-7); Nigeria bt Malaysia 3-1; India bt Malaysia 3-0 (Archana Kamath bt Tee Ai Xin 11-6, 12-10, 11-6; Manika Batra bt Ho Ying 13-11, 8-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9; Madhurika Patkar bt Chang Alice Li Sian 11-8, 8-11, 11-2, 6-11, 11-5); Nigeria bt Wales 3-2; India bt Nigeria 3-0 (Archana Kamath bt Offiong Edem 6-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-8; Manika Batra bt Ajoke N. Ojomu 11-4,1-3, 11-4; Sutirtha Mukherjee bt Cecilia Akan 11-4, 11-8, 11-8).