Ahmedabad, September 15: Achanta Sharath Kamal had arrived here with a hope of securing a World Cup berth via the 30th Table Tennis Asian Cup. But his dream was shattered in a day as he crashed out in the first stage.
On Friday (September 15) - the opening day of the Asian Cup, turned out to be a huge disappointment for India's top player. However, Manika Batra gave the local fans joy as she made it to the play-off round with an all-win record in Group D.
Sharath, who had been drawn into a tough Group (C), failed to win a single match and was eliminated.
The veteran, ranked 47 in the world, lost all his three matches at The Arena by TransStadia.
He managed to win only one game in three contests against his high ranked opponents.
In the morning, Sharath lost to Korean Lee Sangsu (world number 14) 0-3 and then in the evening was beaten by China's Lin Gaoyuan (world number 29) 0-3 and Japanese world number eight Jun Mizutani 1-3.
Indian interest ended in men's section as Harmeet Desai fought hard before losing two matches. He had begun well by winning the opener in the morning.
22-year-old Manika was impressive as she notched up three wins in the first stage to top Group D.
Now, she will feature in a single play-off match tomorrow (September 16) for a berth in the knockouts (quarter-finals).
The top two from each Group of A, B, C directly qualify for last-eight phase, the second stage of the tournament.
The third placed players from A, B, C will face the D winner in a play-off round where two will join other six automatic qualifiers in the knockouts.
Manika's road ahead is a tough one as she is drawn to face Japan's Miu Hirano, who is world number six.
"I am happy to have topped Group D. I had come prepared for this tournament," world number 119 Manika said after her third win (3-2), against Thai Suthasini Sawettabut.
Manika admitted that she had luck on her side against Sawettabut, the world number 58.
"I was lucky against Suthasini in the fifth and final game. There were few net balls," Manika, who received loud cheers from home fans, said.
When asked about tomorrow's match, she said it would be tough and would give her all to win.
"I know it will be tough but I will give my best and try to win," she signed off.
First round results of Indians
Group C: Sharath Kamal - lost to Lee Sangsu (Korea) 0-3, Lin Gaoyuan (China) 0-3, Jun Mizutani 1-3
Group D: Harmeet Desai beat Abdulaziz Al-Abbad (Saudi Arabia) 3-0, lost to Nima Alamian (Iran) 2-3, lost to Padasak Tanviriyavechakul (Thailand) 2-3
Manika beat Mohamed Aia (Qatar) 3-0, Neda Shahsavari (Iran) 3-0, Suthasini Sawetabut (Thailand) 3-2
Top six qualifiers for quarter-finals
Group A: 1. Fan Zhendong (China); 2. Koki Niwa (Japan)
Group B: 1. Chih-yuan Chuang (Chinese Taipei), 2. Sangeun Jeong (Korea)
Group C: 1. Jun Mizutani (Japan), 2. Lin Gaoyuan (China)
A: 1. Yuling Zhu (China), 2. Hoi Kem Doo (Hong Kong)
B: 1. Li Shiwen (China), 2. Cheng I-Ching (Chinese Taipei)
C: 1. Kasumi Ishikawa (Japan), 2. Szu-yu Chen (Chinese Taipei)
Play-offs draw (winners go to second stage)
10 AM IST (Saturday, September 16)
Noshad Alamiyan (Iran) (Group B third placed) Vs Lee Sangsu (Korea) (Group C third placed); Nima Alamian (Iran) (Group D topper) Vs Chen Chien-An (Chinese Taipei) (Group A third placed)
Manika (Group D topper) Vs Hirano (Japan) (Group A third placed); Lee Ho Ching (Hong Kong) (Group B third placed) Vs Hyowon Suh (Korea) (Group C third placed)