Mumbai, April 11: India, ranked 21 in the world, nearly pulled of a sensational upset result against the World Number 3 Japan at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships in Wuxi, according to information received here. India squandered a few advantages to bow out 2-3 thanks to Koki Niwa, the backbone of the Japanese triumph.
85th ranked Soumyajit Ghosh had given his team a perfect start with a win over world no 25 Yuya Oshima (7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6). 54th ranked Sharath Kamal recovered quickly from his first set trashing and held a total of three match points in the fourth game against 13th ranked Koki Niwa before losing (11-1, 6-11, 8-11, 14-12, 12-10).
The agony continued as Harmeet Desai, despite leading 2-1 and 10-all in the fourth game against world no 19 Kenta Matsudaira, experienced a five-game defeat (5-11, 8-11, 11-2, 14-12, 11-6).
Sharath then kept the tie alive when he beat Yuya Oshima (11-8, 11-13, 11-5, 6-11, 11-6) to set an intriguing battle between Ghosh and Koki Niwa to settle the issue.
Ghosh began well but eventually lost to Koki Niwa 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-4.
India, who subsequently, lost the 5-6 positions match against Hong Kong 0-3 will now play for the 7-8 positions tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Indians had something to gain from the team championships, having beaten DPR Korea 3-2 in the first division final and for the first time ever. This came as a consolation for the Indians who had surpassed their expectations earlier, taking the Japanese to the brink.
But it was not all that easy against the North Koreans, though both Soumyajit and Harmeet had given another perfect start beating Choe Il 11-6, 11-9, 12-10 and Pak Sin Hyok 11-5, 11-13, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5 in a tough second rubber. But what followed was rather surprising as G. Sathiyan was blanked out by Kang Wi Hun who won 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 and Ghosh lost his reverse singles to Pak Sin Hyok 10-12, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8 to leave the fate of India in the hands of Harmeet.
The man from Surat did not disappoint as he beat Choe Il in straight games of 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 to make some amends for his folly against the Japanese.