The defensive skills of R. Abhishek and the unbridled aggression of A. Amalraj proved equally effective in taking these two understated talents to the main draw on a day when most home-grown challengers tumbled out of the $100,000 NCC Indian Open table tennis championship here on Wednesday.

On the first day of the qualifying stage for men and women, most overseas aspirants either booked their berths in the knockout stage or moved closer to making it. Subhajit Saha and Madhurika Patkar were the other two Indians to enter the 32-player main draw in their respective sections.

Sharath Kamal and Mouma Das are the two Indians to gain a direct entry into the knockout phase.

Abhishek, who belongs to the diminishing breed of defensive players, sent Soumyadeep Roy out of contention by inflicting an 8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-5 defeat. Later, Abhishek had to bring out his very best against Korea’s Yoo Hoon Suk on way to a 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 3-11, 4-11, 11-8 triumph.

Germany’s Philip Floritz also defeated Roy and Yoo Hoon Suk to advance from Group 8. Amalraj stunned Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chein-An 6-11, 11-8, 11-6, 13-15, 11-9, 11-5 to qualify, having already tamed teammate Aniket Koparkar 11-7, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-4.

Saha made it past Chinese Taipei’s Yeh Chih Wei and compatriot Harmeet Desai for a well deserved place in the round of 32.

India is sure of another place in the men’s second stage since Sourav Chakraborty and G. Sathiyan clash for the available spot on Thursday morning.

Anirban Nandy will have to wait the result of the match between Korea’s Han Ji Min and Jubin Kumar to know his fate. Pathik Mehta needs to beat Korea’s Seo Jung Hwa to advance.

Among the ladies, Madhurika made it after beating Neha Agarwal in the three-player group I. Nandita Saha is likely to be a second Indian qualifier behind Korea’s Kim Min Hee, who plays Kasturi Chakraborty in the last league match. The winner of the match between K. Shamini and A. Nivedita will move into the main draw.

Poulomi Ghatak, Pooja Sahasthrabudhe, Ankita Das and Divya Deshpande need a victory in their last league match to advance.

Keywords: Indian Open

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