Tokyo: India`s men bowed out of the World Team Table Tennis Championships after they were blanked out by Egypt 0-3 in Stage 2 of the second division here Friday.
This would mean that the men`s team, which had finished 27th in the last worlds two years ago in Germany, will end up in the 32-36 brackets this time.
Indeed, this was a climb down for a team that was expected to do better here. Nevertheless, one must give credit to the Egyptians for the way they played here, first overcoming a stiff resistance from Sharath Kamal and then taming both Soumyajit Ghosh and Harmeet Desai, in that order for a 3-0 score.
Sharath, though began on a losing note, caught up with his rival Omar Assar nicely to lead 2-1 at the end of the third game. But the Indian was definitely on some sort of trouble against Assar as the Egyptian ran up a good lead to put his opponent on mat. Having levelled the score, Assar went all out against Sharath in the fifth and clinched it earlier than one had anticipated to win 11-8, 5-11, 7-11, 11-4, 11-6.
Sharath complimented his rival at the end of the match and said he was pushed to the corner by Assar who was good with his forehand drives. I made a few mistakes initially and he made most of those to surge ahead. My rhythm was not good, yet my backhand was better on the day, said Sharath.
Ghosh too began on a wrong note, but managed to stage a comeback by taking the second game against El-Sayed Lashin. But that was all he could do as the Egyptian No. 2 player won 11-9, 9-11, 13-11, 11-5.
With India trailing 0-2 Harmeet Desai played his usual attacking game but couldn`t do much against Saleh Ahmed who beat the Indian 11-5, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7.
Coach Peter Engel admitted that he expected a better performance from the Indians.
"I am happy our boys did reasonably well though I would have wanted them to cross the quarter-final hurdle," he said.
"We will draw our lessons from these championships and prepare adequately for the Commonwealth Games, which will be our next target," added the coach.
Meanwhile, national coach Bhawani Mukherjee was upbeat about the women team`s chances against Brazil, who beat Egypt 3-2, to enter the quarterfinals.
"Brazil women played really good against Egypt today. I know they are a good team and our girls have their task cut out tomorrow. I am not putting any pressure on them and just want them to give their best tomorrow," said Mukherjee.