Bahrain: It was a mixed day for the Indian paddlers at the Volkswagen World Junior Table Tennis Championships here on Wednesday with Harmeet Desai and Mallika Bhandarkar entering the round of 16 while the mixed doubles pair of Soumyajit Ghosh and Manika Batra bowing out in the round of 32.
After accounting for the Puerto Rican pair in the first round, Desai and Bhandarkar defeated the English-Germany duo of Gavin Evas and Nina Mittelham 11-6,4-11,11-3,4-11,11-6 in a hard-fought battle that lasted more than an hour. The Indian pair now has an onerous task in the pre-quarterfinals where it will take on Chinese duo of Hongyuan Song and Meng Chen.
But chief coach Bhawani Mukherjee exuded confidence saying the combination of Desai and Bhandarkar can unsettle any opponent because while Desai plays an attacking game, Bhandarkar tries to wear out opponents with his slow game. “It’s not that she can’t attack but she prefers to slow down the game which may not suit the Chinese,” he said.
Earlier, Ghosh and Batra bt James Pintea of Canada and Ellen Hwang of the US in straight games of 11-2, 11-8, 11-5 but lost to Chung Hei Chiu and Ching Wan Li 5-11, 7-11, 11-3, 13-15.
As for the boys section, G Sathyan beat Stephan Shaposhnikov of Russia 12-10, 11-4, 11-4, 11-7 to move into the second round while Sourav Saha is slated to play his qualifying game to move into the main draw.
All the girls’ matches are slated for the evening. They are played on league system.
KARLSSON PRAISES: Swede great Peter Karlsson praised the Indian boys for winning the bronze: “Your performance and the confident way with which you took on Chinese prove that India’s future in the game is bright and secure,” said Karlsson
Meanwhile, TTFI general-secretary Dhanraj Choudhary credited the boys’ bronze medal winning performance to the “excellent junior programmes” and the help provided by both the Sports Ministry and SAI. “The boys were picked early before the 2010 CWG and trained properly and it has yielded good results,” he said.