Indian women topped their group to secure a direct entry into the quarterfinals while the men will fight it out in the Round of 16 after finishing third in their group in the second division of the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Tokyo.
The women got past Bulgaria 3-2 in their toughest test in Group G which they topped with five wins in as many matches. Given a bye in the first round of the knock-out stage, India face the winners of the Egypt-Brazil in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
The men's team led by World No.39 Sharath Kamal finished third in Group F behind Iran and Italy though all three teams had nine points and suffered a loss each. For India, the loss against Italy on Wednesday from a winning position cost them dear. They take on Egypt on Friday.
"It is a pity the way we lost against Italy. Harmeet (Desai) lost a close match he should have won," India's foreign coach Peter Engel told PTI referring to the 2-3 loss against the Italians. Desai lost the fifth and deciding tie 1-3 and was leading 9-1 in the fourth game before Niagol Stoyanov turned it around to win the game 24-22, thus the match.
"Sometimes one game can make all the difference. We would have topped the group had Harmeet won one more game. All the top three teams were balanced. There is not much difference between winning and losing. We could have beaten Italy and lost to Iran," added Engel.
Both Indian teams are playing in the biennial tournament~CHECK~s second division where only the top-two of the 24 teams qualify for the Championships division in the following edition.
Women: India beat Bulgaria 3-2 (Manika Batra beat Anelia Karova 7-11, 11-4, 14-12, 11-8; Shamini Kumaresan lost to Sibel Remzi 9-11, 5-11, 11-6, 13-11, 6-11; Ankita Das beat Ivanka Angelova 11-6, 7-11, 14-12, 11-8; Manika Batra lost to Sibel Remzi 8-11, 8-11, 8-11; Shamini Kumaresan beat Anelia Karova 11-5, 11-9, 11-7).
Men: India beat Paraguay 3-0 (Sharath Kamal beat Alejandro Toranzos 11-4, 11-8, 11-1; Anthony Amalraj beat Marcelo Aguirre 11-1, 11-6, 11-7; Sanil Shetty beat Axel Gavilan 11-3, 11-3, 13-11).