The two Indian pairs of Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan, and Harmeet Desai and Manav Thakkar, earned bronze medals in the men’s doubles of the 2021 ITTF-ATTU Asian Championships here on Monday. In the first semi-final, the eighth-seeded Harmeet and Manav stretched South Korean fifth seeds of Woojin Jang and Jonghoon Lim before bowing out 4-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-8 in 44 minutes. However, the sixth-seeded pair of Sharath and Sathiyan withstood the onslaught from Yukiya Uda and Shunsuke Togami for 33 minutes, going down 5-11, 9-11, 11-13. Yet, the Indian men made history at the Asian Championships, first winning team bronze last week, and both pairs adding a doubles bronze each.
Harmeet and Manav, facing a 0-2 deficit, were seemingly out of the match. But they regrouped in the third to give a scare to their opponents. From 7-all, they made it 10-10 and took the game 12-10.
With renewed energy, the two combined well and ran the Koreans close at 5-5. But the three points lead at 8-5 restored their confidence as despite Korea making it 9-all, the eighth seeds sealed the game for them.
In the decider, the Indian pair went 6-4 up. But the Koreans seized the initiative (6-6), and it proved costly. The experienced Korean, upping the ante, ensured its place in the final.
However, after losing the first game tamely against the Japanese pair, Sharath and Sathiyan recovered from a 1-3 deficit to give them a glimpse of hope in the second. The closest the Indians came against the rampaging Japanese left-right duo was 5-6. Then from 6-10, they fought aggressively to pick three more points.
In the third, the Indians led 4-2 but the Japanese levelled 6-6 and soon went up 10-7. Yet, the Indians played brilliantly to deuce. At 11-11, the left-handed Uda returned superbly to put Japan 12-11 and got the breakpoint to seal the Indians fate.