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Indian men finish seventh, women eighth



Busan, July 3: Achanta Sharath Kamal, India’s top-ranked paddler in the world, led from the front as he helped the country beat Iran 3-1 to finish seventh in the men’s team event at the Asiah Championships here on Wednesday.


Earlier on Tuesday, Indian women paddlers had finished eighth, behind Malaysia. While our women had ended their campaign as runners-up in the first division of the team event, the men paddlers emerged as the champion team, qualifying to play for the 7-8 positions.


In the playoff match between India and Iran, Sharath Kamal paved the way for India finishing ahead of them with an excellent win over 44th ranked opponent Noshad Alamiyan. Though the 30-year-old Indian surged ahead with a 2-0 lead, it must be said to the credit of the Iranian who staged a fine comeback to take the match to the deciding fifth game. Sharath Kamal, however, held his nerve to win the game and match, clinching it 11-5 11-9 7-11 2-11 11-7.


In fact, it was Sharath Kamal who had given India a superb start, despite losing the first game, by beating Nima Alamian, who is ranked at 282 in the world. Sharath won 8-11 12-10 11-9 11-9. Howevere, Soumyajit Ghosh failed to match his opponent’s defensive game plan in the second match against Alamiyan and went down 7-11 6-11 9-11 much quickly. But Anthony Amalraj made amends for Ghosh’s loss with a 9-11 11-7 11-7 10-12 11-5 win over 301 ranked Mohammadreza Akhlaghpasand in a see-saw five-setter.


Sharath Kamal came for a special praise from coach Bhawani Mukhrjee who said the ace Indian paddler was back in his groove. “Sharath played really well. His fore hand topspin was working well for him. He varied his speed well. His back block also work for him, “ said the coach.


He also praised Amalraj but admitted that the Indian had put himself in a spot of bother against Akhlaghpasand before overcoming them. “Overall, I would say, we have done our best becasue all top Asian nations are participating in the championships. Our target was to play in the champion division and our men and women achieved that. This performance has made us eligible for the Incheon Asian Games as per government guidelines," he said.


Meanwhile in the mixed doubles, the pair of Ghosh and Mouma Das, who had beaten Mongolian pair of Lkhagvasuren Enkhbat and Byamba Erdenesuvd 3-0, lost in the pre-quarters to Gao Ning and Yu Mengyu of Singapore 10-12 2-11 7-11. The other Indian pair of Sharath Kamal and Neha Aggarwal too lost in the second round to Chih-Yuan Chuang and Yi-Hua Huang of Chinese Taipei 7-11 8-11 10-12.